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" So I returned, and considered aU the oppressions that are done under the sun : and 
behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the 
side of their oppressors there was Power; but they had no comforter." Eccles. iv. L 

" Slavery is the greatest of all evils; and the attempt to regulate such an evil is in itself 
almost absurd. There is no excuse for continuing the practice in India, a country fully 
peopled, and where cultivation and commerce can be carried on by free men." — Fabqdhab. 




Price One Shilling. 











" So I returned, and considered aU the oppressions that are done under the sun : and 
behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter ; and on the 
side of their oppressors there was Power; but they had no comforter." — Eccles. iv. L 

« Slavery is the greatest of all evils ; and the attempt to regulate such an evil is in itself 
almost absurd. There is no excuse for continuing the practice in India, a country fully 
peopled, and where cultivation and commerce can be carried on by free men."— Faequhab. 





I'^.S'^ /)o,S. 



The following series of papers on Slavery and the Slave Trade 
in British India were originally prepared for the columns of the 
Morni7ig Chronicle, and intended as a reply to certain communica- 
tions which had previously appeared in that journal of an opposite 
character. They are now presented to the reader in a pamphlet 
form for convenience of reference;, and in the earnest hope that 
they may excite public attention to a subject deeply affecting the 
national honour, and the best interests of the human race. 

The object of the writer, in drawing up these papers, was to pre- 
sent a true picture of Indian Slavery ; to notice the measures which 
have either been proposed or adopted by the government, whether 
at home or in India, relative thereto ; and to show the absolute 
necessity which exists for its immediate and entire abolition. He 
has aimed at accuracy and compression; and in every case has put 
it into the power of the reader to verify his statements and conclu- 
sions, by quoting his authorities^ and by giving him the means of 
a more extensive and deliberate study of the whole question. Had 
he drawn upon his private sources of information, instead of con- 
fining himself to public and official documents, he might have 
darkened the shades of the picture, and have more completely de- 
veloped its hideous character ; but as slavery, however sanctioned 
or modified, is, in his deliberate judgment, not only a crime 
against human nature, but a sin against God, and ought, therefore, 
without hesitation or delay, to be abolished, he has been content to 
let the servants of the East India Company depict the monstrous 
system themselves. Their portraiture will, if he mistake not, ex- 
cite the deepest compassion for the slave, and add another proof to 
the truth of holy writ, that '' the dark places of the earth are full 
of the habitations of cruelty/' 

He is aware that a volume of apologies, more or less qualified by 
an avowed abhorrence of the evil, may be found in the parliamentaiy 
papers, from which he has chiefly collected his evidence ; but, in no 
instance has he found its continuance justified on the ground of its 
being an afiFair of caste, or of its forming an essential part of the re- 
ligious institutions of the people. Neither the Mahomedan nor the 
Hindoo law doctors contend for it on either of these grounds (Par. 
Pap. 138, 1839, pp. 319 to 322). That slavery is not an afi'air of 
caste will be apparent from the following statement of facts, (1) that 
persons of all castes, from the Brahmin to the Soodra m.ay be en- 
slaved. The acting criminal judge at Ahmedebad, Mr. Vibart, 
states it as within his knowledge, that '* a great number of Hindoo 
children of all castes, are sold as slaves to Mahomedans " {Ibid. 
p. 449). The commissioner in the Deccan, Mr. Chaplin, after 
stating that the '' Gosaynes are dealers in slaves," observes, that 
they procure them '' either for the purpose of selling again, or of 
making cheles or disciples of them ; such cheles are usually of the 


create Poorbuee, Brahmins, Bukkals, Gnzerattees, or Marattas, 
though boys of inferior castes are sometimes surreptitiously foisted 
in amongst them " (Ibid. p. 435). Children of the Gosanee, 
Mussulmanee, and Rajpoot castes may be also found among the 
slaves of India {Ibid. p. 551). Not only may individuals of all 
castes be enslaved, but even those of the superior may become the 
slaves of the inferior castes. This is declared to be the fact by the 
Moonsiffs in answer to the question, " Can a person of superior 
caste become the slave of an inferior ? " Their reply was as follows : 
— '' Famine, or poverty may oblige a person of any caste to sell his 
freedom for food and clothing, to any one willing and able to pur- 
chase it, whether the member of a higher or a lower caste to him- 
self {Ibid. p. 444). (2) Slaves of all castes may be manumitted 
either by the beneficence of their owners, or by complying with the 
requisitions laid down in the Hindoo law, with the single exception 
of Brahmins who had become Sinasses, or religious mendicants, and 
afterwards apostatized from their profession, — these, it is said, can 
never be released from slavery (Par. Pap. 1828, E. I. Slavery, 
pp« 7j. 8)- The Hindoo does not lose caste by becoming a slave, 
any more than he forfeits it by becoming a free man. Slavery is 
not considered a crime, but a misfortune. As among the Mahome- 
dans there are no castes, it is needless to say that the argument in 
no wise affects the question of slavery as prevalent among them. 

The plea that slavery forms part of the religion of the natives of 
India, is less tenable than the assumption of its being connected 
with caste. In adverting to this point, Chief Justice Haring- 
ton, observes, ''^ It is true the law and usage of slavery have no im- 
mediate connexion with religion;" and adds, " So far we are not 
under the embarrassment " (in reference to its abolition), *' which 
restricted us in proposing rules concerning the sacriiice of Hindoo 
widows on the funeral piles of their husbands" (Par. Pap. 138, 
1839, p. 317):, and Mr. Colebrooke informs us that *' the manu- 
mission of slaves being deemed an act of piety, and an expiation of 
divers oifences, frequently takes place from religions motives " {Ibid. 
p. 312.) 

Driven from these grounds, the advocate for the continuance of 
Indian slavery pleads the sanction which has been given to it by 
British law. If a doubtful, and, as the writer of these pages be- 
lieves, a forced interpretation of the Rule of 1793. which will be 
found discussed elsewhere, can be said to give a legal sanction to so 
iniquitous a system, then he rejoices in the fact that such a law is 
not irreversible, but that it can and undoubtedly will be repealed. 
The moral sense and the Christian principle of the people of Eng- 
land will never endure to be told that in any part of the British Em- 
pire, however remote, British law sanctions a system of gross im- 
purity and cold-blooded cruelty. According to Mahomedan law 

the " rightful proprietor " " may have connexion with liis 

legal female slave, provided she has an-ived at years of maturity, and 
the master or proprietor has not previously given her in marriage to 
another;" and that should he "have connexion with his female 


slave before she has arrived at years of maturity^ and if the female 
slave should in consequence be seriously injured (so that uterque 
naturcB meatam in unameveat), or should die^, the ruling power 
may punish him by fazeer, ugoobut;, hug-ool Illah (literally by the 
right of God^ and meaning on principles of public justice) {Ibid. 
p. 311). 

On this exposition of the law. Judge Richardson remarks : — 
" The obvious immorality, and the great impolicy and inhumanity 
of the licentious authority stated in this answer, requires no com- 
ment. The law-officer, although he has stated in part the truth, 
has not embraced the whole truth. The Islamite has power, by the 
Musselman law, of exercising with his female slaves licentious in- 
tercourse ; at the mention of which modesty recedes with blushes, 
and humanity shrinks with horror ! " Again, he observes : " If a 
master, excited by lust, unrestrained by shame, or by habit, shall 
have connexion with a female slave before she has arrived at the 
years of maturity, if the female should in consequence be severely 
injured or die — what is the consequence ? The ruling power may 
punish him as before defined. Shall a British Government," he 
asks, *' sanction so horrid a law?" Turn we to the Hindoo law : — 
*' If a master, or any other person, by permission of the master, 
should cohabit with a slave-girl before she has arrived at the years 
of maturity, and this fact be proved, the ruling power m.ay sentence 
such offender to pay a fine of fifty puns of kouries, but cannot 
emancipatt^ the slave-girl!" \East India Slavery, p. 15). Can 
British law sanction the abominations implied in such a statement 
as this ? 

The Hindoo law, says Mr. Colebrooke, '^ makes no provision for 
the protection of the slave from the cruelty and ill-treatment of an 
unfeeling master ; and the Mahomedan," he observes, ''is restrained 
by no provisions of the law adapted to protect the slave from ill- 
treatment ;" ^nd that neither in the case of the injured Hindoo or 
Mahomedan slave is emancipation compulsory on the master, what- 
ever may have been the amount of degradation and suffering en- 
dured. Does British law sanction such a state of things as this } 
If it does, on what ground can it be justified or tolerated for a 
single instant > (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, pp. 311, 321.) 

But v/e may be told that in one respect at least, British law 
softens the rigour of the Mahomedan and Hindoo slave codes, viz., 
by taking away the right of the masters to put their slaves to death. 
True : but this is an innovation on the law we are bound, it seems, 
to maintain ! The writer sincerely trusts that British law will in- 
novate still further, until it not only guards the life, but completely 
protects the person, the property, and the liberty of every individual 
in British India. It may also be said, that the testimony of slaves 
is legal evidence in the courts of law in India, even against their 
masters. This also is an innovation on the law we are called upon 
to respect. But in reference to this point the writer would remark, 
in addition to what he has said elsewhere, that, whilst in law the 
slave is declared to be a competent witness, yet for want of a neces- 


sary condition attached to the privilege, it really affords him no pro- 
tection. Had the privilege been coupled with poAver on the part of 
the courts to which he might apply for the redress of grievances, 
to declare him free whenever such an act was required for his 
protection, it might have been of some service to him, though 
even then but few would dare encounter a master who had injured 
them, and who had power to injure them still further, if they failed 
in their proofs against him. "It is hardly necessary to remark," 
says Mr. Richardson, " on the degree of suffering that an illiterate, 
^vretched, and desponding slave will submit to from his lord, whom 
from infancy^ perhaps, he has been accustomed to look upon, with 
trembling anxiety, as the sole arbiter of his fate, upon whose plea- 
sure all the little happiness, or rather the absence of misery, v/hich 
he hopes to experience, entirely depends. Is it likely that a slave 
under such circumstances should dare to apply to the ruling power 
for redress?" This remark will apply with still greater force to 
female slaves shut up in the zenanas and harems of their voluptu- 
ous masters (East India Slavery, p. 16). 

It is alleged, morever, that great danger to the stability of our 
Indian empire would arise from the abolition of slavery. No traces, 
however, of this alarm can be discovered in the multitudinous re- 
ports of the Company's officers in India. It is confined chiefly to 
Leadenhall Street. The rights of fathers and heads of families 
would not be interfered with except in so far as they infringed the 
liberty, purity, and happiness of their dependants. How stands the 
case .f* According to Mahomedan law only one class of slaves can 
be legally held in bondage, viz., infidels taken in war, and their de- 
scendants. All other slaves held by Musselmen are in bondage con- 
trary to law, and are declared to be entitled to '' immediate emanci- 
pation." With respect to such slaves as may be the concubines of 
their masters, they cannot be sold ; and the children they may have 
by such connexions are declared free. In the case then of Mahome- 
dans, there can be little doubt that if the letter and spirit of their 
own law were strictly applied, " of the many thousands of male and 
female slaves held (by them) in bondage in the ComjDany's domi- 
nions, and subject to the grossest usage, prostitution, and every 
other depravity, under the pretence of slavery being sanctioned by 
Musselman law, not a single man or woman exists," in the opinion 
of Judge Richardson, "to whom the right of property, on the 
principle laid down by that law can possibly be established" (Par. 
Pap. 138, 1839, p. 321). 

With respect to the Hindoos the case is somewhat different. 
Their law allows of fifteen classes of slaves, provided they have not 
"been stolen or inveigled away, and sold as slaves," or "reduced 
to slavery by compulsion." These are declared to be entitled 
to their freedom, together with all such as are the concubines 
of Hindoos, and have borne them children. Hindoos are the great 
holders of prsedial slaves ; and, with respect to them, probably 
there will not be two opinions as to the necessity of their immediate 
emancipation. The difficulty, if indeed it be one, would simply 


have reference to the domestic slaves of Hindoos ; and we are ex- 
pressly told by Mr. Vibart, that " the higher and respectable class 
of Hindoos are in favour of abolition^ on tiie ground that a great 
number of Hindoo children of all castes^ are sold as slaves to Ma- 
homedans ; and consequently, are brought up in the Mahomedan 
faith :" and^ he adds, that he does '^^ not apprehend that the Ma- 
homedanS;, amongst whom the practice is most prevalent, would 
offer any great objection to its being abolished." This may be 
equally true in other districts besides that of Ahmedabad {Ibid. p. 

The interesting fact alluded to by the late Lord Suffield, in a 
debate on the East India Charter Bill, in 1833, is another proof that 
the more liberal and intelligent natives of India are not opposed to 
the abolition of slavery. Four thousand Parsees, Hindoos, and 
Mahomedansj had presented a petition to the House of Commons, 
which, after expressing their approbation of the conduct of Sir 
Alexander Johnstone, in promoting the abolition of slavery in 
Ceylon (then thought to have been secured), concluded with these 
remarkable words : — " Illustrious legislators, benefactors of the 
human race, your persevering exertions to abolish the trade of 
slavery have spread the fame of your humanity over all the 
world !" Mr. Macaulay, then Secretary of the India Board, had 
previously assured the House of Commons that "'the Board of Con- 
trol had been in communication with some of the most able of the 
civil servants of the Company ; and they all assure me," said that 
gentleman, " that they do not anticipate any danger from our en- 
deavouring to get rid of slavery if proper cautions be used to pre- 
vent interference with the domestic habits of the people." 

It may, perhaps, be desirable before we close these remarks, to 
notice a reason which has been alleged for the supineness and indif- 
ference both of the East India Company, and of its Government in 
India, in promoting the abolition of slavery in the countries and 
provinces over which its authority extends. A gentleman of great 
respectability and intelligence, but who is evidently very ill-informed 
on the law and practice of slavery in our eastern empire, in the 
course of his evidence before the Select Committee on East India 
produce, last year, stated, that the subject of slavery had ^'^been 
discussed in India on several occasions, with a view to the abolition 
of it ; but the conclusion always come to was, that it was not a 
practical grievance j and that by interfering with the relations be- 
tween landlord and ryot in that form — for it is nothing more in 
fact, we should be meddling with a matter in which we should do 
no good, and might give general dissatisfaction" (Par. Pap. 527, 
1840, p, 97). Whether slavery in British India be nothing more 
than Mr. Trevelyan represents it, the reader will judge on perusing 
the following pages ; but, taking it for granted that his representa- 
tion of the condition of this class of ryots be true, viz., that he 
" cannot leave his farm without the consent of his master, and that 
he must work for the benefit of his master," and that he is " trans- 
ferable with the soilj" in point of fact, that he may be "sold with 


the estates"— we would ask, why the system should not be abo- 
lished? But we submit as a reply, without admitting for one mo- 
ment, the correctness of his statement of the mildness of the Indian 
system of slavery, the following observations of the Madras Board 
of Jlevenue, made forty years ago, when persons were found as 
now, to denominate it patriarchal. They say : — " Because no im. 
mediate measures are urgently called for, it does not follow, that— 
the most useful, the most laborious, and one of the most numerous 
classes of our subjects in these territories, should, from generation to 
generation, continue the hereditary bondsmen of their masters, — in- 
capable of inheriting property of their own, — deprived of that sti- 
mulus to industry which possession of property ever inspires ; and, 
because they are fed, clothed, and reconciled to their present condi- 
tion, it does not follow that the Government should confirm, institu- 
tions which doom those who have thus fallen into this condition, in- 
capable of ever recovering their liberty, or of rising to a level with 
their fellow men! Independently of those principles, hostile to any 
restraint on liberty, which are innate in every British government, 
and which, as contained in our judicial code, without any express 
enactment on the subject, have operated to check abuses of mas- 
ters towards their slaves ; and, independently also of those feelings, 
among free men, which naturally prompt them to extend to every 
one under their government the blessings which freedom confers, it 
appears to the Board, on the mere calculating principle of self-in- 
terest and policy, to be desirable that no one should be deprived of 
the means of acquiring property, or of diffusing those benefits 
among society which proceed from an increase of capital and 
wealth'' (Par. Pap. 1828, East India Slavery, p. 899). 

As to other objections, they assimilate so closely to those for- 
merly urged in defence of West India slavery, now happily abo- 
lished, that it would be a waste of time to do more than merely 
refer to them. They carry their refutation with them ; we, there- 
fore, conclude these prefatory remarks in the eloquent language ut- 
tered by Mr. Macaulay, in 1833, when advocating the abolition of 
slavery in British India : " Come when it may, it will be the'proud- 
est day in the English History, when a great people, whom we 
found sunk in slavery and superstition, shall, under our rule, have 
been rendered capable of enjoying all the privileges of free citizens. 
This will indeed be the triumph of reason over barbarism, by esta- 
blishing the imperishable empire of our arts, our morals, our litera- 
ture, and our laws.'' 

London, 1st May, 1841. 


No, I. 


The fact that slavery exists to an enormous extent, and in forms 
which every humane and Christian mind must greatly deplore, in 
our Indian empire, admits of no doubt among those who have paid 
the slightest attention to the evidence furnished by the government 
on the subject. 

As the question is one of growing interest and importance with the 
country, and as a great desire for information relative thereto is every- 
where expressed, we propose to lay before our readers the sum of the 
evidence now before the public in the documents printed by order of 
parliament, and in the admirable and useful publications of William 
Adam, Esq., and the Rev. James Peggs ; both of whom, by their 
long residence in India, and their habits of patient research, are well 
qualified to illustrate the extent and evils of slavery in that immense 
portion of our dominions. 

No census of the slave-population of British India appears to 
have been ever taken. From the information, however, scattered 
through the parliamentary papers, which he has diligently and care- 
fully examined, Mr. Peggs gives the following summary : viz.— - 

In Malabar . . , , . 

Canara, Coorg, Wyn^d, Cochin, and Travancore 
















East India Slavery, pp. 83, 84. 

In this enumeration Mr. Peggs has included the slaves found in 
some of the states governed by native princes or chieftains, under 
the authority and protection of the East India Company. 

Mr. Adam states the number of slaves within the Company's ter- 
ritories, as far as he could ascertain it, to be as follows : viz. — 

In Silhet and Buckergunge . 
Behar . . 

Tirhoot . 

Southern Mahratta Country 
Malabar and Wyn&d 



Law and Custom of Slavery in British India, p. 128. 

But from this enumeration he excludes, not only the slaves in the 
provinces governed by native chiefs', and in some of the districts under 
the government of the Company, where it extensively prevails, but 
those also of the islands of Ceylon, Penang, and Malacca, amounting 
to at least 30,000 more. 

Judge Baber, than whom no man was better qualified to give in- 
formation on subjects connected with Indian slavery, in his evidence 
published in 1 832, estimates the number of slaves in those districts 
in which he had been able to collect evidence, viz., the Dooab, or 
Southern Mahratta country, Canara, Malabar, Wynad, Travancore, 
and Cochin, at about 400,000.— Par. Pap. No. 128, 1834, p. 42. 

It is manifest, however, from a careful examination of the autho- 
rities quoted by these gentlemen, as well as of others to which they 
do not refer, that the highest computation given by either of them 
falls short of the actual number of slaves in British India, over 
whose destiny the Company has at this time unlimited authority 
and control. 

After alluding to the existence of slavery in Dacca, Jelalpoor, 
Backergunge, Rungpoor, Dinajpoor, Purneah, Assam, Arracan, the 
Tenasserim provinces, the Mergui Archipelago, Boglipoor, Ramghur, 
Dehra Doon, Bellary, and Tanjore, of the number of slaves in which 
districts he could obtain no exact account, Mr. Adam concludes his 
able statement with this remark, that it is " highly probable that a 
thorough and faithful census would show that the number (of slaves 
in the Company's territories) does not fall short of one million." 

In ftirther illustration of this point, and to show the extensive pre- 

valence of slayery in one or other of its forms, in the different presi- 
dencies of Bengal, Bombay, and Madras, the following authoritative 
statements may be relied on. 

Slavery in Bengal. Mr. Colebrook, in 1804, published Re- 
marks on the husbandry and internal commerce of Bengal^ in which 
we find the following admissions : — " Slavery, indeed, is not un- 
known in Bengal. Throughout some districts the labours of hus- 
bandry are executed chiefly by bond servants." In an official paper 
Avritten by him in 1826, he is more specific ; he observes, " We find 
domestic slavery verg general among both Hindus and Mussulmans." 
******" Every opulent person, every one 
raised above the condition of the simplest mediocrity, is provided 
with household slaves, and from this class chiefly are taken the con- 
cubines of Mussulmans and Hindus." * * * * * 
" In the lower provinces under this presidency," he further observes, 
" the employment of slaves in the labours of husbandry is nearly, if 
not entirely, unknown. In the upper provinces, beginning from 
western Behar and Benares, the petty landholders are aided in their 
husbandry by their slaves." Distinguishing " the serfs," who " pay 
rent and other dues for the lands which they till," &c. he says, " but 
those employed in husbandry by the inferior class of landholders are 
strictly slaves ; and their condition differs from that of household 
slaves, only as the one is occupied in out- door work, and the other in 
the business of the interior of the house." He adds, " it may be 
stated, that slaves are neither so few (in Bengal) as to be of no con- 
sideration, nor so numerous as to constitute a notable proportion of 
the mass of the population." — Par. Pap., No. 138, 1839, p. 311. 

Slavery in Bombay. In Mr. Chaplin's report, made in answer 
to queries addressed to the collectors of districts, he says, " Slavery 
in the Deccan is very prevalent^ and we know that it has been recog- 
nized by the Hindu law, and by the custom of the country, from 
time immemorial'." Mr. Baber gives more definite information of 
the number of slaves in one of the divisions of the Bombay terri- 
tory, viz., that " lying between the rivers Kistna and Toongbutra," the 
slaves in which he estimates at 15,000 ; and in the southern Mahratta 
country, he observes, " All the Jagheerdars, Deshwars, Zemindars, 
principal Brahmins, and Sahookdars, retain slaves in their domestic 
establishments ; in fact, in every Mahratta household of consequence, 
they are, both male and female, especially the latter, to be found, and 
indeed are considered to be indispensable." — Par. Pap. No. 128, 
1834, p. 4. 



Slavery in Madras. Mr. A. D. Campbell says, " In the terri- 
tories under the Madras government, slaves are of two distinct de- 
scriptions ; the ona includes the great slave population, termed 
' agrestic slaves,' or such as are usually employed in the field, though 
occasionally also in other labour. * * * * * ^he other description of 
slaves consists of those who may be termed domestic, from being em- 
ployed only in the house itself. The class principally subjected to 
slavery in this presidency are the Pariar, all of whom are slaves" 
(Par. Pap. No. 128, 1834, p. 30). Hamilton says, " The Pariar are 
so numerous, that they have been computed at one-fifth of the whole 
population of India, south of the Krishna." The population thus 
alluded to is computed at 15,000,000 : the Pariar, therefore, would 
amount to 3,000,000, all of whom, the same accurate writer, on the 
authority of Dr. Francis Buchanan, states to be slaves. — Vol. ii. pp. 
6, 179. The domestic slaves in this as well as in the other pre- 
sidencies, are exceedingly numerous. Mr. Baber describes them as 

" the descendants of outcaste persons, kidnapped persons of 

free-born castes," of whom Mr. Brown says, " he would pro- 
duce hundreds in every town in Malabar, there being few Moppilla 
(Mahomedan) and Christian houses in which there were not some 
of them ; . . . . and the rest are described as persons, or their ofi- 
spring, natives of Arabia, but chiefly of Abyssinia, called Wadawar, 
and Goolams ;" and, it is added, " In all the great towns throughout 
Malabar and Canara, these descriptions of slaves are to be met with" 
(Par. Pap. 128—1834, p. 11). 

If our space admitted, the incidental notices and official admis- 
sions of the Company's servants on this point might be here intro- 
duced, for the purpose of showing the strong probability there is, 
that the slave population of India must be reckoned by millions 
rather than by thousands ; but we close with the statement of the 
Rev. Mr. Malcom, who has recently returned from an extensive tour 
of observation in Hindostan and other parts of the East, whither he 
had been sent, as the representative of one of the American mission- 
ary societies. That gentleman says, " The number of slaves in the 
Carnatic, Mysore, and Malabar, is said to be greater than in most other 
parts of India, and embraces nearly the whole of the Puncham Bun- 
dam caste. The whole number in British India has never been ascer- 
tained, but is supposed by the best informed persons I was able to 
consult to be, on an average, at least one in eight, that is about ten 
millions. Many consider them twice as numerous." — Travels in 
Hindostan, &c. Chambers's edition, p. 23. 

The Puncham Bundam caste, alluded to by Mr. Malcom, or, as 
Dr. Francis Buchanan writes it, " The Panchum Bundum consists 
of four tribes, the Pariar, the Balaun, the Shecliar, and the Toti ;" 
but " the niost numerous class (of slaves) is composed of the differ- 
ent tribes of the Sudra caste." He further states, " The slaves are of 
different castes," and amongst them enumerates the " Yullam, Carra- 
cum, Erilay, &c. ; a rude tribe called Malasir ; the Poliar ; and an- 
other rude tribe called Parian, They (the Pariar) are not desig- 
nated," he observes, " Churman or slaves, but are in fact such, and 
belong to Tamhurans or Lords, who give them daily subsistence; 
and exact daily labour in the same manner, and of the same kind, 
as is done with slaves. Another caste of Malayala condemned to 
slavery is called in the singular Catal, or Curumbal; and in the 
plural Catalun, or Curumbalun. They reckon themselves higher 
than the Churmun, Poliar, or Pariar." In the northern part of 
Tulava are two castes, called Bacadura, and Batadura, both of whom 
are slaves (^Adam's Law and Custom^ &c. pp. 255, 256, 259, 261, 262, 
264). Mr. Baber adds to these *' the Koorcher, Kooramer, Kadder, 
and Panier, in Wynad; the Moola Cooramer, in the same district, 
who, though they acknowledge no superior, are so low in the scale 
of human beings as not to be suffered to touch the lowest of the 
slave castes; the Naiadee in Malabar, and the " Adiar" (Par. Pap. 
128 — 1834, pp. 5, 12, 19). But slavery is not confined to these 
castes ; for we find that all castes, from the Brahmin to the Soodra, 
may be enslaved. The Acting Criminal Judge at Ahmedabad, Mr. 
Yibart, informs us that, "a great number of Hindoo children of all 
CASTES, are sold as slaves to Mahomedans" (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 
449) ; and the Moonsiffs at Dharwar, Hoobley, and Noulgoond, in re- 
ply to the question, " Can a person of superior caste become the 
slave of an inferior ? " observed, " Famine, or poverty, may oblige a 
person of any caste to sell his freedom for food and clothing, to any 
one Avilling and able to purchase it, whether the member of a higher 
or a lower caste than himself" {Ihid. p. 444). The former, however, 
appear to be the principal tribes or castes, who, to a greater or lesser 
extent, have been reduced to the condition of agrestic slavery. The 
inhabitants of Malabar are said to have been anciently considered 
ferce naturw ; and as such, to have been enslaved by Pureserama, for 
the benefit of the sacerdotal order. This, says Mr. Newman, the 
presiding judge at Tellicherry, " is the priestly tale by which so large 
a portion of the commons of Malabar are disfranchised even to sla- 
very" {Ihid, p. 427). 

But, whether the number of slaves in our Indian territories be few 
or many, the fact of any portion of British subjects being held and 
used as the property of their fellow subjects and fellow men is enough 
to warrant, and should call forth, the most vigorous and united 
efforts of the people of this country to secure their immediate and 
entke liberty. 

jVo^e. — For further information on the extent of slavery in India, con- 
sult Par. Pap. No. 128, 1884, and No. 138, 1839, and the authorities 
quoted by Adam's Law and Custom of Slavery in India, pp. 103 to 129 
inclusive ; and Peggs's East India Slavery, pp. 53 to 84 inclusive. 

No. II. 


Slavery in Hindostan is not sanctioned by British law, except in 
so far as it has been recognized as an institution by the various rules 
and regulations which have been issued by the supreme authority in 
India, from time to time, to mitigate or check it. It is, however, 
authorized by the Hindoo and the Mahomedan laws, as may be seen 
in the following extract from a minute on the subject by Mr. Cole- 
brooke, inserted in parliamentary papers. No. 138, p. 311, 1839. 
He says : — " The Hindoo law fully recognizes slavery. It specifies 
in much detail the various modes by which a person becomes the 
slave of another, and which are reducible to the following heads : viz., 
capture in war ; voluntary submission to slavery, for divers causes 
(as a pecuniary consideration, maintenance during a famine, &c.) ; 
involuntary, for the discharge of debt, or by way of punishment of 
specific offences ; birth, as offspring of a female slave ; gift, sale, or 
other transfer by a former owner ; and sale or gift of their offspring 
by parents. It treats the slave as the absolute property of his master, 
familiarly speaking of this species of property, in association loith cattle, 
under the contemptuous designation of bipeds and quadrupeds. It 
makes no provision for the protection of the slave from the cruelty and 
ill-treatment of an unfeeling master, nor defines the masters powers 
over the person of his slave ; neither prescribirig distinct limits to that 
poicer, nor declaring it to extertd to life or limb. It allows to the slave 
no right of property, even of his own acquisition, unless by the in- 
dulgence of his master. It affords no opening for his redemption and 
emancipation (especially if he be a slave by birth or purchase), unless 

by the voluntary manumission of him by his master ; or in the special 
case of saving his master s life, when he may demand his freedom or 
the portion of a son ; or in that of a female slave bearing issue to her 
master, when both she and her offspring are entitled to freedom, if he 
have not legitimate issue ; or in the particular instances of perso'ns en- 
slaved for temporary causes (as debt, amerciament, cohabitation with 
a slave, and maintenance in consideration of servitude) ; or the cessa- 
tion of the grounds of slavery by the discharge of the debt ; or mu- 
tual discontinuance of the cohabitation, or relinquishment of the 

The Hindoo law recognizes fifteen different classes of male and fe- 
male slaves, viz. : — " 1st. Girihgat, that is, one born of a female 
slave. 2nd. Kireet, that is, one bought for a price, either from the 
parents or from the former owner : 3rd, Lubdhi, that is, one received 
in donation : 4th, Dayado pagut, that is, one acquired by inheritance : 
5th. Unakut bhirt, that is, one maintained or protected in famine : 
6th. Aheet, that is, a slave pledged by his master: 7th. Bundus, 
that is, a distressed debtor, voluntarily engaged to serve his creditor 
for a stipulated period : 8th. Joodh puraput, that is, one taken cap- 
tive in war: 9th. Punjeet, that is, won in a stake or gambling 
wager : 10th. Oofigut, that is, one offering himself in servitude, with- 
out any compensation in return : 11th. Purbburjeea busit, that is, a 
Brahmin relinquishing a state of religious mendicancy, which he had 
voluntarily assumed ; an apostate mendicant, however, is the slave 
of the Rajah, or government only: l'2th. Hrit kal, that is, stipulated, 
or one offering himSelf in servitude for a stipulated time : 13th. Bhu- 
egul-das, that is, one offering himself in servitude for the sake of 
food : 14th. Birbax chirt, that is, one becoming a slave on condition 
of marriage with a slave girl : l-5th. Atmu bikrita, that is, self sold, 
or one who has sold himself for a price" {Ibid. p. 321). 

" The Mahomedan law equally acknowledges slavery, originating, 
however, in fewer sources, viz. : — capture of infidels in war -, birth, 
as issue of a female slave ; to which some authorities (who are chiefly 
followed) have added sale of their offspring by parents in a dearth or 
famine. The property is so absolute and complete, that it is assigned as 
a reason for subjecting an owner to no worldly punishment or penalty 
for the murder of his slave ; he has, of course, entire power over his 
person, being restrained by no provisions of the law adopted to protect 
the slave from ill-treatment. Manumission cannot be exacted from 
the owner, unless in the case where, for some cause, the slave is al- 
ready emancipated in part, in which case he is entitled to redeem 


himself by emancipatory labour equivalent to the remaining portion of 
his value. • In all other instances emancipation depends wholly on the 
will of the o'vvner. But manumission of slaves is strongly recom- 
mended as a pious act, and the law leans much against the slavery of 
Mahomedans. A female slave bearing issue to her master does not 
acquire freedom, but gains other privileges, of which the chief is that 
of not being liable to be sold to another person. Her issue is free, and 
ranks with other illegitimate but acknowledged offspring of her 
master" {Ibid. p. 311.) 

According to the most eminent Mahomedan law doctors, " All 
men are by nature free and independent ; and no man can be a sub- 
ject of property, except an infidel, inhabiting a country not under the 
power and control of the faithful. This right of possession which the 
Mooslims have over heurbees (i. e. infidels fighting against the faith), 
is acquired by isteela, which means the entire subduement of any sub- 
ject of property by force of arms. The original right of property, 
therefore, which one man may possess over another is to be acquired 
solely by isteela (as defined above), and cannot be obtained in the first 
instance by purchase, donation, or heritage." Such slaves, and such 
only, " become legal subjects of property, and are transferable by gift, 
sale or inheritance." — " The same rules are applicable to slaves of 
both sexes." Children born of female slaves " by any other than by 
her legal lord and master, whether the father be a freeman or slave," 
are " subject to slavery," and " are called Khanazad, i. e. born in 
the family" (^Ihid. pp. 319, 320). 

It may be here observed, that the authority of Hindoo law in those 
parts of British India formerly under the dominion of the Mahome- 
dans is not only questioned, but denied. By right of conquest their 
laws superseded those of the Hindoos. It may be further observed 
that the British government acquired its power of legislation from the 
Mussulmans ; and^ in its turn, has asserted its right, and bound the 
people of this country, as matter of duty, " to promote the interests 
and happiness of the native inhabitants of the British dominions in 
India, and has declared that such measures ought to be adopted as 
may tend to the introduction amongst them of useful knowledge, and 
of religious and moral improvement (vide 35 George III., cap. 155), 
provided that the free exercise of their religion be invariably main- 
tained" (Parliamentary papers, p. 317, No. 138, 1839), If it be 
true that the Mahomedan has superseded the Hindoo law, and we see 
no reason to doubt it, then it follows that the slavery sanctioned by the 
Hindoo law has no legal existence, and that the slavery permitted 

under the Mahomedan law may be legally abolished by this country, 
inasmuch as it is not a religious, but a civil institution. Indeed, so 
far from its being a religious institution, we have the best authority 
for saying, that the manumission of slaves is considered an act of 
piety and an expiation of divers offences by the natives of India, both 
Hindoo and Mahomedan {Ibid. p. 312). It would farther appear, 
from the deliberate opinions of many eminent persons, that, if the 
Mahomedan law were construed strictly, and the letter, as well as 
the spirit of that law were rigidly enforced, an end would be put 
almost immediately to the system of slavery in British India. 

We have said that slavery in India is not sanctioned by British law. 
Mr. Adam, however, thinks that the Hindoo and Mahomedan law 
of slavery, '' with some modifications," is confirmed by it (Law and 
Practice of Slavery, &c., page 24) ; and such certainly appears to 
have been the general opinion entertained and acted upon by the 
government and judiciary in India. The opinion is grounded on the 
assumption, that the decision of the Sudder Dewanny Adawlut, the 
supreme court of civil judicature on all questions of native law, given 
in 1798, was the correct interpretation of the rule of 17^3, which 
provided that " in suits regarding succession, inheritance, marriage, 
and caste, and all religious usages and institutions, the Mahomedan 
laws with respect to Mahomedans, and the Hindoo laws with regard 
to Hindoos, are to be considered the general rules by which the judges 
are to form their decision." The question referred to the court was 
" concerning the succession or right of inheritance to a zemindary or 
other real property," according to native law, when it was determined 
" that the spirit of the rule for observing the Mahomedan and Hindoo 
laws was applicable to cases of slavery, though not included in the 
letter of it" and this construction of the rule was subsequently con- 
firmed by the governor-general in council, and is in full operation at 
the present day. 

In the rule of 1793, passed by Lord Cornwallis, legal authority 
for the possession of slaves is withheld ; the reason for which may, 
probably, be found in the fact, that, as far back as 1789, his lordship 
had notified to the Court of Directors that he had " a plan under con- 
sideration which he hoped to be able to execute without doing much 
injury to the private interests, or offering great violence to the feel- 
ings of the natives, and which had for its object the abolition of the 
practice (of slavery) under certain limitations ; and the establishing 
some rules and regulations to alleviate, as much as possible, the 
misery of'those unfortunate people during the time that they might 


be retained in that wretched situation" (Parliamentary Papers, 1828, 
East India Slavery, p. J 3). This plan his lordship either never ma- 
tured, or else abandoned, for v/e find no after reference to it in official 

But to return to the rule of 1793, and the construction put upon it 
by the Sudder Dewanny Adawlut. We venture to assert, that, neither 
upon principles of general reasoning, nor of strict legal interpretation, 
can that construction be sustained. It is admitted by the late Chief 
Justice Harington, that, " the law and usage of slavery have no im- 
mediate connexion with religion" (Par. Pap. No. 138, 1839, p. 317). 
It is also clear that slavery is not included in the letter of the rule, in 
other words, it is not recognized, and certainly, not guaranteed, by 
that rule ; therefore, when we consider that slavery required not the 
sanction of British law, on the ground of its being a religious insti- 
tution, we conceive the silence of the rule on the subject ought to 
have been interpreted in favour of freedom, not against it. To say 
that the " spirit " of that rule sanctioned tyranny and oppression, the 
inseparable incidents of slavery, is monstrous, and would for ever 
prevent the benefits of British legislation from being enjoyed by a 
large portion of the native inhabitants of India, whose " interests 
and happiness," as we have before seen, we are bound to promote. 

Whichever of these opinions may be correct, whether slavery in 
India be the creature of custom or of law — whether it be a civil or 
religious institution — whether it have the sanction of the Koran or 
the Shasters — the fact of its existence within any part of the territory 
subject to our control must determine its fate. Like its sister abomi- 
nations, infanticide and suttee, it must be abolished, and be num- 
bered amongst the things that were. 

At various periods from 1798 to 1833, when the charter of the 
East India Company was renewed, various attempts have been made 
by eminent and distinguished persons in India to ameliorate the con- 
dition of the slaves, and to promote their emancipation, all of which 
proved, unhappily, unsuccessful. In 1808, Judge Richardson pro- 
posed " that the state of slavery throughout the British possessions 
should be determined by Mahomedan law, the British government 
having acquired the right of legislation from a Mussulman power, in 
previous possession of these territories for centuries ; and having 
adopted the Mahomedan laws, particularly in all criminal cases, and 
indeed in all judicial cases, except those of heirship, marriage, caste, 
or matters connected with religion" (Par. Pap. No. 138, 1839, p. 
316). This Avould at once have terminated slavery among the Hin- 


doos, who had, previously to our occupation of the country, been sub- 
ject to Moslem power, and to a very gi*eat extent among the Maho- 
medans themselves. In Mr. Harington, then chief justice, the 
worthy judge of Bundelcund met wdth a powerful opponent, and his 
scheme was rejected {lUd. p. 317). 

In 1816, Mr. Leycester, a circuit judge, made a report to the su- 
preme court suggesting the abolition of slavery. On this the court of 
Nizamut Adawlut passed resolutions, under date the 12th of June, 
1816, in which they state that " they fully participate in the senti- 
ments expressed by Mr. Leycester in abhorrence of hereditary slavery, 
and earnestly Avish it could be discontinued with regard to all chil- 
dren born under British protection. But, whilst it is allowed to re- 
main with respect to the progeny of existing slaves born under the 
British government in the West Indies and South Africa, the aboli- 
tion of it, on general principles of justice and humanity, could not, 
the court apprehend, be consistently proposed for India" (Adam's 
Law and Custom, &c., p. 202), and his propositions consequently 
fell to the ground. 

In 1817, Chief Justice Harington, who had opposed Mr. Richard- 
son, drafted a regulation "/or the guidance of Courts of Judicature in 
cases of slavery" designed to prevent the enslavement of certain classes 
of the population, and " the mal-treatment, by emancipating the slave, 
in cases that appear to call for this measure, on grounds of justice 
and humanity ;" it being, in his opinion, " indispensably necessary to 
prescribe rules for the guidance of magistrates and criminal courts in 
such instances" (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 318). But even his very 
moderate suggestions were never attended to. It is but justice to 
this gentleman to say, that, although he had opposed the propositions 
of Mr. Richardson, he nevertheless recorded his opinion that " it is 
obviously repugnant to every principle of natural justice, and incon- 
sistent with the common rights of mankind, that any person should 
be deprived of his personal freedom during the whole of his life, 
without his consent, and, without having committed any offence, be 
subject to so heavy a punishment" {Ibid. p. 318). 

From the labours in behalf of suffering humanity of these eminent 
persons, who occupied high offices in the Bengal presidency, we now 
call attention to the zealous and unremitting efforts of Mr. Baber 
and other gentlemen in the presidency of Madras in the same noble 
cause. Mr. Baber exerted himself, for many years, not merely to put 
a stop to the " horrible traffic in human flesh, but for the amelioration 
of the slaves in general, by restraining their owners from selling them 


out of the country, and from separating families ; and also by making 
it compulsory on them to afford the slaves a suitable provision in food, 
clothes, and habitation, in sickness, or health, young, and old, at 
all times, and in all seasons" (Adam, p. 209, and Par. Pap. 128, 1834, 
pp. 1 to 28). But he failed to secure the assistance of his fellow civi- 
lians in his benevolent objects, or to make any impressions on his 
superiors. From 1823 to 1832, Mr. Baber says, " I have confined 
myself to occasional notices of the condition of the Malabar slaves, as 
often as my public attention has been drawn to the subject, but with 
little or no benefit to the unfortunate slaves, who continue the same 
reprobated people as ever" (Par. Pap. 128, 1834, p. 27). 

The proposition of Mr. Campbell, sustained by the recommenda- 
tions of the Madras board of revenue in 1819, suggested, among other 
things, " that the purchase of fi-ee persons as slaves should be illegal ;" 
that " the children of all slaves born after a certain date should be 
free ;" that " voluntary contracts to labour for a term of years, or for 
life, should bind the individual alone, and not his wife and children ;" 
that " purchase of children to be brought up as prostitutes should be 
subjected to special penalties ;" that "the local civil ofiicers should have 
power to cause masters to provide wholesome food and decent clothing 
for their slaves, and to prevent their neglecting them in sickness, age, 
and infirmity ■" that " all slaves attached to lands or estates escheating 
to government should be declared free ;" that " the power of corporal 
punishment should be transferred from the masters to the local civil 
officers ; and that slaves, on being ill-treated by their masters, should 
be allowed to claim the privilege of being sold to another ; and that 
the breach of any of these rules by the master should, at the option 
of the slave, entitle him to liberty." These humane propositions, 
thus powerfully recommended, and sustained in whole or in part by 
such men as Mr. Baber and Mr. Graeme, were merely ordered to be 
recorded, that is, laid on the shelf. " During the twenty-two years 
that I resided in India," says Mr. Campbell, "or since 1808, no 
material changes have taken place in the condition of the slaves in 
the territories subject to Madras;" and he adds, "the outcry raised 
in India against the suttee was long powerless, until it returned re- 
verberated from the British shore ; and that against slavery will con- 
tinue disregarded, unless it receives support from all the energy of 
the home government" (Par. Pap. 128, 1834, pp. 35, 36). 

Nor were there wanting, in the presidency of Bombay, men who 
sympathized with those already mentioned, in their efforts to raise the 
bondsmen of India to the condition of freemen, or to prevent freemen 


from becoming slaves. In 1825 tlie Judge of Kaira, Mr. Williams, in 
a report to the secretary to the government, observed : — " I am of opin- 
ion the emancipation of all slaves throughout the territories under this 
presidency is very desirable. The possessors of slaves are mostly persons 
of property, and I believe in too many instances treat them with much 
severity" (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 433). Mr. Norris thought " it 
is not worth while legislating on the subject of slavery, as it exists in 
India, except with the view of effecting its certain abolition at no 
very distant date." He therefore recommended the following en- 
actments. " All persons born on the Bombay territories after the 
first of January 1826 to be free ;" and " all slaves brought into the 
Bombay territories after the first of January to be free, after one year's 
continued residence in the said territories" {Ibid. p. 446). Mr. Baillie 
said " the sale or transfer of free-born subjects, in my opinion, in the 
Honourable Company's territories, should from henceforth (1825) be 
disallowed and discontinued" {Ibid. p. 448). Mr. Yibart, Judge at 
Ahmedabad, stated, " there exists no valid objections, at least in this 
part of the country, to the practice (of slavery) being entirely abol- 
ished ;" and he adds, " I am persuaded, the total abolition of practice 
would be very acceptable to the higher and respectable class of 
Hindoos" {Ibid. p. 449). But none of these recommendations were 
were acceded to by the local government {Ibid. 457)» 

In this rapid sketch we have found it impossible to do justice to 
all of the company's servants who have strenuously and honourably 
exerted themselves to ameliorate the condition of slaves in British 
India, with a view to their ultimate emancipation. Those, however, 
to whom we have referred effected comparatively nothing. Eidi- 
culed by some, and opposed by others, of their fellow civilians, 
their valuable suggestions were either allowed to slumber in 
silence in the offices of the supreme government, or were brought 
to light merely for the purpose of being formally condemned 
and abandoned. And this state of things continued until the 
year 1833, when the government of Earl Grey, with a resolution 
and magnanimity which did it the greatest honour, determined to 
strike at the root of the monstrous evil — in other words, to abolish 
it. Justice to the natives of India formed the basis of the bill in- 
troduced by Mr. Grant (now Lord Glenelg) to the attention of the 
House of Commons for the renewal of the company's charter, and 
was thus announced to the chairman of that body : — " No person, 
native or natural, born in India, is to be excluded from any office 
merely by reason of his religion, birth-place, descent, or colour ;" 


and " slavery, after a specified period, to be abolished." The period 
fixed in the bill for its complete extinction was the 12th of April, 1837. 
But the strenuous opposition of the honourable directors, aided by 
the influence of certain noble lords in the upper house, defeated the 
wise and humane intentions of government, and slavery, unmitigated 
and unchecked, has been allowed to continue to the present day. 
Will not the present government honour itself, and add to its other 
claims on public respect and gi-atitude, by extinguishing this great 
evil in every part of the British dominions ? 

Note. — For an authoritative exposition of the Hindoo and Mahomedan 
law of slavery, consult Par. Pap. No. 138, 1839, pp. 319 to 322 inclusive ; 
and Adam's Law and Custom of Slavery in British India, pp. 1 to 51 in- 
clusive. For attempts to ameliorate the condition of slaves, and promote 
the abolition of slavery in India, the inquirer is referred to Par. Pap. 128, 
1834, to Adam's Law and Custom, &c., pp. 195 to 279 •, and Peggs's East 
India Slavery, pp. 84 to 111. 

No. III. 


If we may credit those who have reported on the subject, the con- 
dition of the slaves in British India is not only bearable, but enviable, 
as compared with that of multitudes who call themselves freemen. 
The system under which they are held is denominated patriarchal ; 
their treatment is said to be mild and gentle ; and it is affirmed, 
that no comparison whatever can be instituted between their circum- 
stances and those of the late bondsmen in the West India colonies. 
" Turning," says Mr. Colebrooke, " from law to practice, we find do- 
mestic slavery very general among Hindoos and Mussulmans. More 
trusty than hired servants, slaves are almost exclusively employed in 
the interior of the house for attendance on the members of the 
family, and in all the most confidential services. Every opulent 
person, every one raised above the condition of the simplest medio- 
crity, is provided with household slaves, and from this class chiefly are 
taken the concubines of Mussulmans and Hindoos, in regard to whom 
it is to be remembered, that concubinage is not among people of those 
religions an immoral state, but a relation which both law and custom 
recognize without reprehension ; and its prevalence is liable only to 
the same objection as polygamy, with which it has a near and almost 
necessary connexion." .... "I trust not to be considered 
an advocate for slavery, nor indifferent to the miseries incident to the 


most degraded condition in human society, when I observe that, in 
this country, slaves are in general treated with gentleness and indul- 
gence. I should, however, demonstrate only an ill acquaintance with 
human character, if I affirmed this to prevail universally, without 
any exception. I cannot doubt that bad temper and disposition 
sometimes constitute a harsh, severe, and even cruel master ; nor have 
I been without occasion of being convinced that such characters are 
to be found amongst the owners of slaves." This gentleman, 
therefore, deprecated the agitation of the subject of slavery, and was 
opposed to any decided measures to put it down. He conceived 
there was " no occasion for abolishing slavery, or for preventing 
enslavement, or for prohibiting the sale of actual slaves within the 
limits of British territories in India" ! (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, pp. 
313, 314). His remarks, however, had reference, almost exclu- 
sively, to domestic slaves in the Presidency of Bengal. 

There are others, more observant than Mr. Colebrooke appears to 
have been, who bring us better acquainted with the system of Indian 
slavery, both prsedial and domestic, and to their testimony we now 
call attention. 


"Nothing can be more abject and wretched," says Mr. Baber, 
" than the condition of that degraded race of mortals, the slaves of 
Malabar, whose huts are little better than tnere baskets^ and ichose di- 
minutive stature and squalid appearance evidently shoio a want of 
adequate nourishmenf (Par. Pap. 128, 1834, pp. 7? 27). 

" The slave," says Mr. Greeme, in his report on Malabar, 1822, 
" has his sieve of a hut in the centre of the rice lands ; but, on the 
coast at least he is an industrious, and not an unintelligent being, in 
good condition, and nothing deficient in bodily frame. In the interior, 
he is a wretched^ half-starved^ diminutive creature^ stinted in his food^ 
and exposed to the inclemencies of the weather ; lohose state demands 
that commiseration and melioration which may confidently be expected 
from the humanity of the British government" {Ibid. p. 23). 

Mr. Campbell, in reply to the questions on slavery proposed by the 
Board of Control in 1832, states, " The creatures in human form who 
constitute, to the number of 100,000, the agrestic slave population of 
Malabar, being distinguishable, like the savage tribes still to be found 
in some of the forests of Arabia, from the rest of the human race, 
by their degraded^ diminutwe, squalid appearance, their dropsical pot 
bellies, contrasting horridly with their skeleton arms and legs, half- 
starved, hardly clothed, and in a condition scarcely superior to the 
cattle they follow at the plough" {Ibid. p. 33). 


In answer to the same queries, the Rev. Joseph Fenn observed!, 
" They present a wretched appearance to the beholder." : . . . 
" The slaves are in the lowest possible state of degradation." . '„ 
" If it were lawful," he adds, " to speak so of fellow-creatures, pos- 
sessing the same capabilities and the same destinies as British 
Christians, I should say they were wild men" {Ihid. p. 3). 

These gentlemen refer to the general condition of the agrestic 
slaves in the western peninsula of India. From their evidence and 
that of other persons of high reputation, in answer to queries sub- 
mitted to them by the commissioners for the affairs of India in 1832, 
w^e learn that " husbands and wives are separated by sale to different 
parties" (Fenn). " That they are sold off the estates where they 
were bom and bred." . . . . " And the nearest and dearest 
associations and ties of our common nature severed" (Baber). That 
they are sold " in satisfaction of revenue arrears," or, " when pro- 
prietors are in want of cash to pay the revenues" (Baber). That 
'' slaves can be and are sold at pleasure" (Welsh). That " the sale 
of agrestic slares is common" (Campbell). The effect of this is 
described by the Foujdaree Adawlut, in an extract from its proceed- 
ings dated 20fch July, 1829 : — " In Malabar, where the slave is often 
sold separately from the land, civilization is checked by the infraction 
of those feelings, the cultivation of which principally tends to raise 
human nature. He is dragged from the field which he is accustomed 
to till, from all -the connexions of blood and affection, and his dimi- 
nutive size, stinted, growth, and squalid appearance, present the pic- 
ture of the degraded being which he feels he is" (Par. Pap. 138, 183, 
p. 404). " No progress in arts or science can be expected," says Mr. 
Richardson, the judge of Bundlecund, " from unhappy beings whose 
daily reflections press their forlorn condition on their thoughts. The 
rudest cultivation of the earth is performed with reluctance, by 
wretches whose miseries know no end, but in the moments of repose." 
. . . . They fear to enter " into the marriage-state, having no 
protection or security that their dearest and most tender connexions 
will not be set at nought by the capricious lust of pampered power" 
(East India Papers, 1828, pp. 298—300). The children of female 
slaves, recognized by the Mohammedan and Hindoo laws as the ab- 
solute property of their owners, are considered by those laws to 
inherit the condition of their mothers, and, consequently, to be slaves 
for life, unless the acknowledged offspring of their ovmer, in which 
case both the mother and child are entitled to freedom. Thus are 
they regarded and treated as mere articles of property (Par. Pap- 
138, 1839, p. 318). 


Food. With respect 'to food we gather the following particulars t 
" The daily allowance of slaves varies from one and a half to one and 
three-quarters seers of paddy (rice in the husk) to the male ; and 
from one to one and a quarter to the female slave." ;The " daily 
wages of a freeman are about one-third more ;" but then he works 
only till noon, whereas the slave has to toij from morning until even- 
ing, " and to keep watch by turns at night in the paddy field" (Baber). 
" The food, clothing, and comforts of the agrestic slaves are every- 
where inferior to those of the domestic one" (Campbell). "The 
general condition of the agrestic slaves is bad everywhere. They 
enjoy little comfort, have coarse, precarious, and scanty food (Dr. 
Buchanan states not more than ' two-sevenths of what is a reason- 
able quantity), bad clothing, frequently none at all, and no provision, 
that ever I could learn, for old age or sickness. The domestic slaves 
are for the most part better off, but still subject to the despotic will 
of their owners, in everything short of life' (Welsh). In the Tamil 
country, " some of them who are outcasts possess also a right to all 
the cattle that die from disease ; and they eat the flesh of such ani- 
mals, as well as that of snakes and other reptiles ; but in general 
their food is the coarsest grain" (Campbell). In times of scarcity, 
" they are left to eke out a miserable existence by feeding upon wild 
yams, and such refuse as would be sought after by that extreme 
wretchedness which envied the husks that the swine did eat" (Baber). 

In Mr. Graeme's report on Malabar, we find " The allowance made 
to slaves in the different districts, contrasted with what a free la- 
bourer gets, is as follows :" viz.. 


allowance of Paddy for 

Daily allowance of 

A Male Slave. 

A Fem. Slave. 


Paddy for a Free 

M. Seer. 

M. Seer. 

M. Seer. 

M. Seer. 

Calicut . . 





Betutnad . 









Polghaut . 









Ernad . . 



2i ■ 





Shermad . 








Cavay . . 
Cherikul . 




Hartnad . 













This table Mr. Brown pronounces to be substantially correct (Par. 
Pap. 138, 1839, p. 423). Thus it will be seen that the free labourer 
in Malabar obtains nearly as much food in return for work which he 
finishes at noon, as a male and female together are allow^ed for their 
long-continued and um-emitted toil. 

Clothing. — In reference to their clothing, we find that " there is a 
custom of giving them a cloth occasionally, the only clothing they 
wear" (Fenn). That " the allowance, consists of a waist-cloth, called 
moond, to men ; and moori, signifying a fragment, to females ; it is 
just large enough to wrap round their loins, and is of the value of 
one or two fanams, equal to from 6d. to 1 s- ; in some districts this 
is given but once a year, but more generally twice." . . . . " As 
a substitute for these waistcloths, it is very common, especially in the 
retired parts of the country, to use or wear bunches of leaves, gene- 
rally of the wild plantain tree, supported by a fibre of some tree or 
vine" (Baber). Dr. Buchanan states that some are even destitute of 
this species of clothing, so great is their degradation {Law and Cus- 
tom, &c. p. 264). 

Shelter. — Their habitations are most wretched. "They erect 
for themselves," says Dr. Buchanan, " small huts that are little better 
than mere baskets/' " The slave alone," says Mr. Greeme, " has a 
sieve of a hut in the centre of the rice fields." In the sheds erected 
for cattle " the slaves are permitted to dwell when the crop is not on 
the ground ; for these poor creatures are considered as too impure to 
be permitted to approach the house of their devaru or lord" {Adam^s 
Law and Custom, p. 258). " With respect to their dwellings," says 
Mr. Baber, " so very impure are all castes of slaves held, that they 
are obliged to erect their chala or huts at a distance from -all other 
habitations ; neither are they allowed to approach, except within cer- 
tain prescribed distances, the houses or persons of any of the free 
castes" (Par. Pap. 128, 1834, pp. 9, 23). 

Medical Attendance. — In old age and sickness the slaves appear 
to be utterly neglected. " I am not aware of any provision for old 
age or sickness" (Fenn). "They enjoy no provision, that ever I 
could leam, for old age or sickness" (Welsh). " Sickness among 
them causes no additional attention on the part of the proprietors, 
who frequently lose many of their slaves when an epidemic gets 
among them" (Bevan). 

Labour. — The labour exacted from them is onerous and oppres- 
sive. " They are employed in all kinds of agricultural labour, rice 
tillage, and the sugar cane" (Fenn), " without the intermission of a 


single day^ so long as their masters can find employment for tliem" 
(Baber). " They hare no particular hours which they can call their 
own, nor any clay in the week set apart for rest or devotion" (Welsh). 
" In the Tamil country the men are employed in ploughing the land 
and sowing the seed, and on all the various laborious works necessary 
for the irrigation of the land upon which rice is grovm ; the women 
in transplanting the rice plants, and both in reaping the crop." . . 
" They usually work from sunrise to sunset, with an intermission of 
two hours for meals. They are not exempted from work on any par- 
ticular day of the w^eek" (Campbell). " The slave has to toil from 
morning till evening ; after which he has to keep watch by turns at 
night, in sheds erected on an open platform in the centre of the paddy 
field, several feet under water, exposed to the inclemency of the 
weather, to scare away trespassing cattle or wild animals" (Baber). 
Besides their ordinary agricultural employments, these slaves are also 
often engaged in erecting temporary rooms, or pandols, used by their 
masters on marriages or other festivals^ and occasionally are called 
upon, by requisition of the collector or magistrate issued to their 
masters, to aid in stopping any sudden breach in the great works 
of irrigation conducted at the expense of government, or in dragging 
the enormous cars of the idols round the villages or temples, to 
move which immense cables, dragged by many thousands, are neces- 
sary. In Tanjore, in particular, from the great number of temples 
and the frequency of the festivals, this is a very onerous duty" 
(Campbell). " I have observed the slaves in gangs, when they have 
been pressed to make or repair the high roads, to carry the luggage 
of public servants and their establishments, of marching regiments 
and of travellers ; or when carrying treasure, remittances from the 
several talook-cutcheries to the collector's treasury at Calicut (and 
scarcely a week passes, that parties of ten to one hundred of those 
slaves do not arrive) ; or, when bringing stolen goods with parties of 
robbers sent in by the different police officers ; or when carrying the 
Company's tobacco from the several depots for sale to the talook 
and revenue cutcheries; on all which occasions they are guarded 
by kolkars (armed peons), or choorabakar (persons wdth canes), to 
prevent their running away ; and it must be confessed, that it is 
no less a source of complaint to the masters, than grievance to their 
slaves, to be so worked" (Baber). 

Punishments.— The discipline required under such circumstances, 
to coerce labour and enforce obedience to the will of the master 
must be necessarily severe ; we therefore find that, if slaves either 


refuse to work, or run away, they are, on being caught, "flogged 
and put in the stocks for some days, and afterwards made to work 
with chains on" (Baber). " Moreover, there is hardly a sessions of 
gaol deUvery, the calendars of which {though a vast number of crimes 
occurring are never reported) do not contain cases of wounding 
and even murdering slaves, chiefly brought to light by the efforts of 
the police, though, generally speaking, they (the slaves) are the most 
enduring, unresisting, and unofiending classes of the people" (Baber). 
" The lash, or at least coercive strokes, are, I fear, too commonly used, 
and indiscriminately to both sexes" (Welsh). " The practice of slit- 
ting, and even cutting off the noses of slaves was formerly, and is 
said even now to prevail" (Baber). As " corporal punishment pre- 
vails much in India" (Fenn), and as the use of the lash has been 
recognized by the Sudder Foujdary court in Malabar as a legal pun- 
ishment for slaves, it will not be difiicult to imagine the torture to 
which they may sometimes be put in exacting compulsory toil (Par. 
Pap. 128, 1838, pp. 9, 10, 13, 20, 32, &c.). 

The moral and social, as well as the physical degradation of these 
wretched beings is complete. Sunk in the grossest superstition, 
their principal worship is offered to "Boot, the devil" (Baber). 
" The slaves profess generally either the Mohammedan or Hindoo 
religion, with a small portion of Christians ; but, as far as mortal 
can judge, their religion consists chiefly in outward observances; 
their morals being, like their persons, most wretchedly debased" 
(Welsh). " On the western coast I fear it will be found that the 
slaves generally propitiate the evil spirit alone, and many of them 
are believed to practise sorcery" (Campbell). Two or three facts 
will illustrate their social degradation. They are "compelled," says 
Mr. BroAvn, " whenever they come in sight of a habitation, to fly 
from the public high road, and make a long circuit to avoid the 
remotest approach ; forced to utter a cry, to give warning to others 
that a human being, not a dog, was coming ; and driven, whenever 
their cry was answered, to hide themselves in the jungle. Thus it 
is that the right of public way, which is freely conceded to every 
beast of the field, is denied to a whole class of human beings. . . 
The unhappy Pooliar," it is added, " is in a condition which 
ranks him beneath the lowest brute, and his state is without a parallel 
in the annals of human abjectness and degradation" (Par. Pap. 138, 
1839, p. 413). And Dr. Buchanan, who travelled extensively in 
Malabar, Canara, and Mysore, states, that " they follow all the oxen 
and buffaloes of the village, as so much live stocky when these are 


driven in procession at a great festival which the farmers annually 
celebrate" {Adams Law and Custom^ &c. p. 264). Mr. Newnham, first 
Judge of Circuit, western division, Madras, in alluding to a certain 
legal process which came before him, expressed his repugnance " at 
a demand made in a civil suit of twenty Mooluminshers, value fifty 
pagodas, without individual specification, immediately followed by a 
like summary demand for brute animals /' and " at the practice of 
thus suing, without name or individual description, for so many sen- 
tient creatures of God" (Par. Pap. 138 — 1839, p. 405). In another 
communication, he speaks of them " as having been claimed asferce 
naturae^ that became the property of the owner of the ground on 
which they, by becoming resident, can be taken into bondage {Ihid. 
p. 427). " The slaves," says the Rev. Mr. Fenn, " are in the lowest 
possible state of degradation," .... and " nothing," he adds, 
" but Christianity, in my opinion, descends low enough to meet them, 
and to raise them to the level of mankind" (Par. Pap. 128 — 1834, 
p. 3). The foregoing extracts chiefly refer to the condition and 
general treatment of prsedial slaves in the western peninsula of 


Domestics. — The domestic slaves, those of them who become the 
favourites of their masters, are treated with greater leniency. " They 
are well fed," and " well clothed." Such, however, is not the lot of 
the female domestic slaves employed as attendants in the seraglios of 
Mussulmans of rank ; they are too often treated with caprice, and 
frequently punished with much cruelty. .... The complaints 
made to me as superintendent of police at Madras, gave me an in- 
sight into transactions committed in the recesses of the female 
apartments, which has left on my mind a strong impression of the 
cruelty and wanton barbarity with which this class of female slaves 
is subject to be treated ; indeed, little doubt can he entertained that the 
seclusion of female slaves in the harems of Mussulmans of rank^ too 
often precludes complaint^ prevents redress^ and cloaks crimes at which 
Europeans would shudder" (Campbell). Occasionally these victims 
of a ruthless oppression escape from their tormentors, " bearing on 
their persons the scars and wounds which have been inflicted on 
them ; and sometimes providentially, by the merest accident, their 
murder has come to the knowledge of the police" {Ihid. pp. 10, 20, 
32). Several atrocious cases of the barbarous treatment of female 
slaves, not inserted in the parliamentary papers, have come before 

the courts in Calcutta, the details of which should have heen given 
had our limits permitted their insertion ; hut as the nature of these 
cases should he known, we give the substance of two of them. On 
Tuesday, the 11th July, 1837, there was brought to the police of&ce, 
Calcutta, a slave girl, about eight years of age, in a state that beg- 
gared all description. Her bones were through the flesh, her hands 
about the wrist smashed, and pieces of flesh cut off them ; about her 
shoulders there were large holes evidently burnt with coals ; and her 
sides were lacerated ; there was a deep wound on her head, and she 
seemed to be in a dying state. She was immediately sent to the 
police hospital, where she died next day. This atrocious cruelty was 
perpetrated by a Mogul lady, named Bauljee, the wife of a Mogul 
merchant of respectability, on account of the child having drunk some 
vinegar and sugar which had been prepared for her mistress. It 
seems the wounds were inflicted with an iron pestle and with a chop- 
per about nine days before, and the child sent to Colingah for con- 
cealment ; but growing worse, she was ordered to be taken to Chin- 
surah. A Sydee boy, belonging to the family, having witnessed the 
transaction, instead of taking her to the place appointed, brought 
her to the police office. At the coroner's inquest the police surgeon, 
after describing various small wounds on different parts of the unfor- 
tunate child's person, deposed that " the backs of both hands were 
entirely bare of the integuments, with the tendons and the muscles 
exposed.". . . . "On the right hip an ulcer measuring about 
an inch and a half in circumference." ..." The puffy tumours 
on the forehead measured four inches in circumference, and con- 
tained some thin dark pus." In concluding his evidence, he said, 
" I consider the death to have been occasioned by the sloughing of 
the integuments and the sloughing ulcers. I entertain no doubt the 
ulcers might have been produced by bruises or burning." The assist- 
ant deposed that, when brought to the hospital, " the integuments of 
the back of each hand, from the knuckles to the wrist, were in a 
state of mortification." Belaul, the eunuch, was present at the times 
when the injuries were inflicted on the girl, and deposed that they 
were occasioned by an iron pestle, a chopper, and with a piece of 
wood; that he was ordered to take her to Chinsurah, but he stopped 
the palankeen when they got opposite the police office, and on show- 
ing Roheemun to Mr. Mac Cann, " the bearers and servants fled." 
Bauljee was tried for the murder of the slave girl, was shown every 
possible indulgence by the court, and was acquitted. ITad we given 
the details of this trial, we should have felt it to be oui- duty to com- 


ment with severity on the proceedings of the court, as anything more 
un-English or better calculated to defeat the ends of justice, could 
scarcely have been contrived. The number of slaves possessed by 
the Mogul merchant was nine. 

The next case was also one of murder. It appears that a nose-ring 
had been lost, and suspicion having rested on a slave girl, named 
Masumat Basanti, she was repeatedly beaten with a brick, and the 
stalk of the leaf of the palm tree, on and about the joints, and lastly a 

stick * Avhen she told them to do as they 

pleased, as they would not have an opportunity of doing so next day. 
All this torture was inflicted by the order, and in the presence of 
Hosani K'hanam, the mistress. Early next morning Basanti was 
found with her throat cut, and a knife in her hand, but still alive, 
when the K'hanam, and her son, Mahummad Hosein, and Jango 
K'hansaman consulted what was to be done, and it was resolved to 
destroy her. Four slaves, Chunia, Delawar, Bara Sabza, and Amina, 
were compelled to do ihis by standing on and pressing down her chest, 
throat, and belly. In the erening she was buried, Jango and another 
person having dug the grave. 

Hosani K'hanam, Mahummad Hosein, Jango Khansaman, Chunia, 
Delawar, Bara Sabza, and Amina were tried on the charge of " ill- 
treatment and murder of the slave girl, Basanti, aged 31, and con- 
cealing her unnatural death;" but were acquitted of the capital 
offence. Hosani K'hanam was, however, convicted of causing or 
countenancing the ill-treatment of Basanti, and sentenced to pay a 
fine of Co. Rs. 3000, or to be imprisoned one year. Mahummad 
Hosein and Jango K'hansaman on violent presumption of concealing 
the unnatural death of Basanti, and were sentenced, the former to 
pay Rs. 200, or to be imprisoned six months, and the latter to Us. 50, 
or to be imprisoned three months. The four slaves were acquitted on 
the ground that " considering their state of slavery, they appear to 
have acted under compulsion I" This decision of the Nizamut 
Adawlut (Criminal Court) was given on the 7th of July, 1840. This 
murder, like the former, was denounced by a slave belonging to the 
establishment, on account of a child of his, claimed as the property of 
his mistress, having been taken by her order from the care of his sis- 
ter, with whom he had placed it. The number of female slaves 
belonging to the husband of Hosani K'hanam was thirty. How many 
male slaves he possessed does not appear. 

* Too oirensive and indelicate to describe. 


By the acquittal of the foregoing slaves, we are reminded of a 
remarkable statement of Mr. Hamilton's, respecting the slave popula- 
tion of Rhamgur, in the presidency of Bengal. He says, " Theft is 
common throughout Rhamgur ; but murder more prevalent among a 
particular class, which are the slaves possessed by chiefs, inhabiting 
the mountainous and inaccessible interior, and of savage and ferocious 
habits. When petty disputes occur, these slaves are compelled by 
their masters to perpetrate any enormity, and more especially em- 
ployed for purposes of assassination. Any hesitation or symptom of 
repugnance on the part of the slave is attended with instant death, 
which is equally his fate should he fail in the attempt. On the other 
hand, if he succeed he is sought out by the officers of government, 
and executed as a murderer. The usual police has hitherto been un- 
able to seize the cowardly instigator, and if recourse be had to a 
military force, he retires to the jungles. Neither do the slaves attach 
the slightest idea of guilt to the murders they are thus delegated to 
commit ; on the contrary, when taken they invariably confess, and 
appear to expect applause for having done their duty" (East India 
Gazetteer, vol. ii. p. 452). 

Dancing Girls. — There are two classes of this degraded race of 
beings — those who belong to the owners " of sets of dancing women, 
who buy female children, and instruct them for public exhibition, 
and who, when they grow up, become courtezans ;" (Par. Pap. 138, 
1839, p. 312). and those who are employed in the obscene and idola- 
trous worship of the temples. Of the former Sir John Malcolm gives 
a painful description, in his remarks on the state of slavery in Malwa. 
He says, " The dancing women, who are all slaves, are condemned to 
a life of toil and vice, for the profit of others, and some of the first 
Rajpoot chiefs and zemindars in Malwa, have from 50 to 200 female 
slaves in their family. After employing them in the menial labours 
of their house during the day, they send them at night to their own 
dwellings, where they are at liberty to form such connexions as they 
please ; but a large share of the profits of that promiscuous intercourse, 
into which they fall, is annually exacted by their masters, who add 
any children they have to their list of slaves. The female slaves in 
this condition, as well as those of the dancing sets, are not permitted 
to marry, and are often very harshly treated ; so that the latter, from 
this cause, and the connexions they form, are constantly in the habit 
of running away' (Par. Pap. 1828. East India Slavery, pp. 415, 
416). Mr. Richardson, in alluding to the same revolting subject, 
observes : — " If anything can add to the horror which the idea of 


slavery raises in every human breast, it is the reflection that, by the 
Mussulman law respecting female slaves, the master is not only legal 
lord of their persons for purposes of laborious services, but for sensual 
gratification ; even such as his unnatural passions may impel his bru- 
tality to indulge. It is not less shocking to reflect that women, who 
have spent their youth and worn out their persons in the grossest de- 
bauchery, when their faded beauty no longer produces their wonted 
luxuries, and even their former paramours in guilt turn from them 
with disgust, purchase female children for the avowed purpose of the 
most licentious life. These females, were such injurious practices 
prevented by the abolition of all slavery, would become useful mem- 
bers to the community, and add to the prosperity of the state" (Ibid. 
pp. 298. 300). 

Of the latter class, Judge Lascelles gives the following melancholy 
account : — " Their situation," he remarks, " is by far the most objec- 
tionable, combining as it does every attendant on the very worst 
description of slavery. Initiated in early youth into the mysteries of 
their profession, and immured within the walls of the pagoda, they 
are taught, as the first and chief lesson, to consider an imphcit 
and blind obedience to the will of the Brahmin as their highest 
duty ! and their obedience forms their sole and only code of moral 
obligation. The wily guardians appear to make it their chief 
endeavour to destroy all that would ennoble the female character, 
and foster the basest passions of the human heart, as the means of 
pandering to the vices of the multitude, and continuing to themselves 
their ill-gotten revenue. Separated from kindred and kind, the 
purest affections of the heart are suffered to languish and decay. Their 
servile compliance with the disgusting desires of their superiors robs 
them of all self-respect, and teaches them to believe the end of exist- 
ence answered in luxurious idleness, and the grossest sensual indul- 
gence. It will readily be believed how degrading this system is to 
the miserable subjects of it ; it will readily be felt how blasting an in- 
fluence it must have over the physical and moral energies of a people 
naturally too devoted to indolence, and unlimited indulgence of their 
passions. But the evil of this description does not stop here ; there 
is, unhappily, too great cause to apprehend a latent mischief of more 
fearful magnitude. To say that these miserable beings are subject to 
the caprice of their masters, the Brahmins, is but to say, in other 
words, that they suffer under the worst slavery known either in 
ancient or modern times. Their excesses, it is true, are rarely ex- 
posed, for they are veiled in all the intricacies of their religious ob- 


servances, and witnessed only by the actors of them, in the security of 
their polluted walls ; hut this much is open to observation. The o/jed 
are seldom found amon^ this wreiched class, nor is it possihh, in many 
cases, to trace their steps. It loould he superfluous, he adds, to draw an 
inference which is so very obvious, especially when we consider that 
the disappearance of one of these poor creatures involves in it none of 
these sympathies which ordinarily take place in society ; no parent 
mourns his lost child ; no brother, in fraternal love, seeks a lost sister ; 
and no child, with the instinctive longings of filial affection, bewails 
the loss of an indulgent mother ; those ties are blasted in the bud, or 
sicken and wither in the pollution of the immoral atmosphere ; and 
where no such ties exist, no security can exist for one alienated 
from her kin, except so far as she can conduce to the guilty pleasures 
of that kind ; and when infirmity succeeds to youthful strength, and 
she is no longer food for guilty indulgence (so far as her masters are 
concerned, and for their interest,) she uselessly cumbers the ground." 
(Pari. Pap. 138, 1839 ; p. 391-2.) 

One word of comment on the foregoing statements is unnecessary. 
The painful details speak for themselves. To hesitate a moment 
in applying the necessary remedy would be as inhuman as criminal. 

Note. — For additional information on the points referred to in this 
paper, consult Pari. Papers, No. 128, 1834, and No. 138, 1839 ; Adam's 
Law and Custom of Slavery in British India, pp. 51 to 73, and pp. 163 
to 194 j and Peggs's East India Slavery, pp. 1 to 34. 

No. IV. 


In connexion with the system of slavery in India, there has ever 
been an extensive slave trade carried on ; and so great was this vile 
commerce in 1774, that regulations were issued to check it. The sub- 
stance of these regulations was, that all persons were prohibited from 
selling or buying a slave who had not already been proven such by 
legal purchase (Par. Pap. 1828, Slavery in India, pp. 2, 3). The 
evil, however, still continued, when, in 1786, Lord Comwallis issued 
a proclamation, in which he stated, that any person " convicted of 
carrying on, or aiding or abetting the barbarous traffic, would be cer- 
tain of meeting with the most exem^^lary punishment" {Ihid. p. 19)* 

But it was not until the year 1811 that any law was passed by the 
Indian government for the repression of the sale of human beings, 
when, at the suggestion of a native, Dushrut Sing, an officer of 
the Rajah of JSTepaul, the celebrated regulation 10, of 1811, de- 
clared the iniportation of slaves, by land or sea, into places immedi- 
ately dependent on the presidency of Fort William, to be strictly 
prohibited ; and af&xed the penalty of six months' imprisonment, and 
a fine not exceeding 200 rupees to the offence. The slaves to be 

In 1812 it was decided that this regulation did not affect the case 
of slaves brought by their owners from foreign provinces, unless for 
sale, nor was it applicable to the sale of slaves legally held within 
the British provinces ; but only to the sale of slaves impoHed into 
them for that special purpose (^Ihid. p. 135). In this view the go- 
vernor in council concurred. Instructions were forwarfJ^d the same 
year to the government of Madras and Bombay, recommending a si- 
milar regulation to be issued, and at the same time, calling attention 
to the Act, 51 Geo. III. cap. 23, for the more effectual suppression 
of the slave trade, observing that the provisions of that Act would 
effectually restrain the importation of slaves into th6 British territo- 
ries b^/ sea" {Id. Ibid. p. 142). 

The Advocate-General of Fort St. George, Mr. Anstruther, gave 
it as his opinion that this Act applied " in all its consequences and 
penalties, to all persons residing within the King's or Company's ter- 
ritories, including therefore, the native subjects of their government" 
(7<f. Ibid. p. 715). It does not appear, however, that any regulation 
was issued in the Madras presidency, to prevent the importation of 

In 1823 we perceive by an extract from a proposed regulation re- 
specting slavery, " That the kidnapping of children, and selling them 
as slaves, is an offence now cognizable, and punishable on conviction 
by the Criminal Courts" (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 326). 

The government of Bombay issued a regulation No. 1, of 1813, 
similar to the Bengal regulation 10, of 1811, the character of which 
has already been described. 

In 1826 the government of Madras issued regulation 2, of that 
year, which contained " provisions for the punishment of the offence 
of carrying away or removing, from any country or place whatsoever, 
any person or persons as slaves, or for the purpose of being sold or 
dealt with as a slave or slaves." This regulation w^as designed to 

prevent the export of slaves from India to foreign states (Par. Pap. 
138, 1839, p. 331). 

Up to the year 1832, the law relative to the external sin ye trade, or 
importations of slaves by sea into the Company's territories, appeared 
to have been subject to the provisions, of the English statute, and the 
importations by land to regulation 10, of 1811, which simply forbad 
their introduction /or purposes of traffic. In that year its provisions 
w^ere extended to the newly-acquired territory of Assam, " and such 
other provinces as have, or may become dependent" on the presidency 
of Fort William (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 339). 

It is a very remarkable fact that, wdiilst the law officers at Fort 
St.' George and Fort "William Avidely differed in the interpretation 
of the Act, 51 Geo. III. cap. 23, against the slave trade ; and the 
true extent and meaning of that statute was discussed by judges, ma- 
gistrates, and counsels, during a period of twenty years, viz., from 
i812 to 1832, that the governments of Madras, Bengal, and Bom- 
bay, completely overlooked the fact that that statute was repealed in 
1824, by the Act, 5 Geo. lY. cap. 113, now known as the " Con- 
solidated Slave Trade Abolition Act." The only reference we find of 
its existence in the papers relative to slavery in India, is in a mi- 
nute of Mr. Colebrooke's, in 1826 (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 310) ; 
and in an opinion of Mr. Norton's {Id. Ibid. p. 377)- But practi- 
cally, this was of no importance ; for, as the provisions of the 51 
Geo. III. cap. 23, for the punishment of offenders against its enact- 
ments were of such a nature as to render the Act " a dead letter every- 
where in the Madras territory, except at the presidency" (Par. Pap. 128, 
1834, p. 32) ; so those of 5 Geo. I V. cap. 1 1 3, would, from their simila- 
rity, and the inattention or indifference of the executive in India to the 
subject, or its indisposition to adapt them to the end proposed, have 
led to the same result. And with respect to the regulation 10, of 
1811, of which so much has been said, we are told, "it was rendered 
nugatory in its effects, from the impossibility of ascertaining the pur- 
pose for which slaves are imported" (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 343). 
To what can we attribute this but to the vis inertice, of which Mr. 
Campbell so justly complains, " hostile to all change . . . ; . in the 
local government of India ?" (Id. Ibid. p. 36) and how loudly does 
it call for the authoritative interference of the government of this 
country to enforce the laws of the Imperial Legislature. 

Having thus briefly referred to the state of the law for checking 
the external and internal slave trade of British India ; and having 

29 ^.. ' 

seen that in consequence, either of its want of adaptation to the exist- 
ing state of things in India, or of proper regulations to enforce its 
penalties, that the British statute was almost a dead letter ; and that 
the regulation 10, of 1811, from the interpretation put upon it, was 
rendered all but nugatory, we propose to take a rapid glance at the 
sources of supply, and the mode in which the nefarious traffic has 
been, and still is carried on, and by which the system of slavery is 
extended and perpetuated in that part of our empire. 

It is evident, that, during the earlier periods of the East India 
Company's authority in the East, considerable traffic in slaves was 
carried on, not merely for the supply of its own subjects, but also for 
the supply of foreign states. There was an external or foreign 
slave trade by which the natives of Africa, the Persian Gulf, and 
the Red Sea, were introduced into British India for sale ; and 
through which native children, collected and purchased in a clandes- 
tine manner, were exported for sale to the French islands, and to dif- 
ferent parts of India not subject to the Company's jurisdiction ! 
(Par. Pap. !No. 128, 1834, p. 4, and 1828, p. 13). There was also 
an extensive internal slave trade carried on for the supply of the home 

In 1785, Sir William Jones, in a charge addressed to the grand 
jury of Calcutta, said, "The condition of slaves within our jurisdic- 
tion is, beyond imagination, deplorable ; and cruelties are daily prac- 
tised on them, chiefly on those of the tenderest age^ and weaker sex, 
which, if it would not give me pain to repeat, and you to hear, yet, 
for the honour of human nature, I should forbear to particularize . . 
. . . Hardly a man or woman exists in a corner of this populous 
town who hath not at least one slave child, either purchased at a tri- 
fling price, or saved perhaps from a death that might have been for- 
tunate, for a life that seldom fails of being miserable. Many of you, 
I presume, have seen large boats filled with such children coming 
down the river for open sale at Calcutta ; nor can you be ignorant, 
that most of them were stolen from their parents, or bought, perhaps^ 
for a measure of rice in a time of scarcity" {East India Slavery^ p. 

The victims of this infamous traffic not only were, but still con- 
sist mostly of children who have been kidnapped, or sold dur- 
ing seasons of dearth and famine, " Great numbers," says Colonel 
Welsh, " used formerly to be kidnapped from a distance, and sold by 
dealers for both domestic and agrestic purposes. .... Many have 
been, and still are, sold in infancy, by parents and relations, particu- 


larly in times of famines and scarcity, to any one who will purchase 
them'' {lUd. pp. 4, 28, 31). By these nefarious means the slave po- 
pulation of India, both prtedial and domestic, has been recruited 
from generation to generation, up to the present time. 

By the laws now in force in India, viz. 5 Geo. lY. cap. 113, and 
reg. 10, of 1811, &c., the external slave trade is forbidden — kid- 
"iiapping is also declared to be a punishable offence. The sale of chil- 
dren, however, except for purposes of prostitution, is not forbidden. 
Nevertheless, the demand for slaves is so great, the interpretations of 
the law so various, the indifference or apathy of the Company's ser- 
vants, in many districts so apparent, and the chances of detection so 
few, that both the external and internal slave trade are still carried 
on, it is to be feared, to an enormous extent (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, 
p. 365). 


In 1836, the attention of Sir Robert Grant, governor of Bombay, 
having been drawn to the subject, by an able report of the political 
agent at Kattywar {Ihid. pp. 107 to 111), subsequently confirmed by 
a report of the senior naval officer. Captain Brucks, stationed at Surat 
{Ibid. pp. 149, 150), recorded the following minute on the extent of 
this nefarious traffic ; and the necessity which existed for its sup- 
pression : — " This report confirms the account previously received 
from the late pohtical agent at Kattywar, of slaves being imported 
in considerable numbers on this side of India. We must do all in 
our power to put down this nefarious traffic, but must act with pru- 
dence and discretion" {Ibid. p. 150). From the reports to which re- 
ference has been made, we learn that slaves are imported into British 
India through the native states of Kattywar, Cutch, and Scinde, and 
the Portuguese possessions of Diu, Goa, and Dumaon. A few quo- 
tations from the official papers will enable the reader to form some 
idea of the extent of the evil. The Rana of Porebunder, in a com- 
munication to Mr. Willoughby, the political agent in Kattywar, 
says, " Slaves are landed on the coasts of Cutch, and at other ports, 
where no interruption is shown to the traffic" {Ibid. p. 118) : and 
again, " Slaves are imported at all the Bunders (Ports), for Arab ves- 
sels frequent the whole of them ; but they are no way interfered 
with except at my port" {Ibid. p. 123). This complaint was made 
by the Rana of Porebunder, because three vessels from the Maculla 
coast, having on board seventy-nine slaves, were seized by the British 
authorities in consequence of the Rana having engaged to prevent the 


importation of slaves for the futin-e ; and to detain all vessels arriv- 
ing at Porebunder, with slaves on board" (^Ihid. p. 108). Thq slaves 
seized were Africans, viz., forty-nine boys, from four to ten years of 
age, and thirty girls, from five to fifteen years old {Ihid. pp. 109, 127, 
128). " The poor wretches," says Mr. Reid, " were some of them 
concealed in boxes, and other private places in the hold, which will 
explain the difficulty my people had in collecting them {Ibid. p. 
115)." They were "totally naked" {Ihid. p. 113). On the same 
authority we learn, " That about twenty-four unfortunate wretches 
of the same description were clandestinely landed fr-om a boat here, 
about the morning of the 30th ult. (Oct. 1835), and marched to the 
interior of the province, accompanied by tvro Arabs (Ibid. p. 115).'* 
Two female slaves were captured about the same time, and given up 
to the British authorities by the Jam of Noanugger {Ibid. p. 113). 
An export of slaves also fr-om the coast of Kattywar sometimes took 
place, especially in seasons of scarcity, of " young girls from five to 
twelve years of age" {Ibid. p. 113). In 1839, a dreadful famine de- 
solated this province. The accounts represented the unfortunate in- 
habitants as flying by thousands from the country, and parents as 
selling their children for a fcAV measures of grain ! The province of 
Kattywar is under the protection of the Company's government. 
" Slaves of both sexes from Arabia, Scind, &c. are brought to the 
Bunders for sale in this country" (Umrelee and Okamundel), belong- 
ing to his highness the Guicowar {Ibid., p. 141). "The Wadee Arabs 
carry on a considerable trade Avith the Suwabil, or the eastern coast of 
Africa, and bring from thence numbers of negro slaves, whom they dis- 
pose of at the various ports in the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf" 
{Ibid. pp. 152, 156). Besides the traffic in slaves earned on by the 
native chiefs under our protection (and " Arab vessels from both gulfs" 
are extensively engaged in it), they proceed to the coast of Africa with 
cargoes, and from thence return with slaves, which are imported into 
the various places to which reference has been made. We leam from 
Captain Brucks that " numbers of slaves are brought in here (Surat), 
as well as other ports in the Nawaub territory." He also states that 
from " Diu, a Portuguese settlement, between which and Mozam- 
bique, on the coast of Africa, is a regular trade, four to six brigs 
are constantly employed in this trade, besides an occasional additional 
vessel. In all these vessels slaves are imported to that place on the 
return voyage." In the distribution of these slaves, we learn, that a 
portion go to the' opposite territory, some to Gogah, and others are 
smuggled into Bombay and Surat." Of the entire slave trade carried 


on in these quarters, the same officer states, that a " very large 

BRITISH territory" {lUcl. p. 150). 

The demand for African slaves is so very great in Bombay, that 
when the children captured at Porebunder, were, by order of the 
executive, transferred there, the senior magistrate of police (Mr. 
Warden) was fearful of allowing them to go about for exercise, think- 
ing they might be stolen. In a communication to the government 
secretary on the subject, he says, " African children are so valuable 
in Bombay, that I have been afraid to let them go abroad lest they 
should be stolen ;" a guard, therefore, of " a sufficient number of po- 
lice peons," was ordered for their protection (^Ihid. p. 129). 

Another capture of ten Africans, four boys, and six girls, from seven 
to sixteen years of age, forming part of a cargo of eighty or ninety 
slaves landed at Mandavie, in Cutch, was made in 1836, and for- 
warded to Bombay (^Ihid. p. 170). Subsequently to this "a quan- 
tity of Abyssinian slaves, male and female," were imported into 
Bate, in the Gruicowar's territories, of whom only four males and 
four females were secured by the government {^Ibid. p. 180). These 
gleanings will be deemed sufficient to prove the activity of the 
African slave trade with British India, and of the inefficiency of all 
the measures hitherto adopted for its suppression. 

But, it may be asked, with such facts brought under its attention, 
was the government of Bombay content to leave the evil untouched ? 
It vrould be unjust to affirm this ; for we find that Sir Robert Grant 
not only gave orders to the political agents in Kattywar,' Cutch, &c. 
to prevail upon the governing chiefs to unite with the British autho- 
rities in their several states, to prevent the slave trade ; but also, that 
he gave orders for a small squadron to cruise along the coasts to pre- 
vent it {Ihid. p. 119). In making the latter arrangement Sir Robert 
found he had exceeded his powers, and was obliged to recall his 
orders ; and although he succeeded with the chiefs under British pro- 
tection, in obtaining their promise to prevent slave-trading, it is ma- 
nifest that but little reliance could be placed on their hearty co-opera- 
tion, inasmuch as it was well-known not only that " the slave traffic 
in the Asiatic states is notorious," but that " the commercial prosperity 
and importance of many of these states depended, in great measure, 
upon their slave traffic, and system of slavery" {Ibid. p. 132). In re- 
viewing the steps which he had taken, Sir Robert Grant observes, in 
a minute, dated 5th July, 1836, " The object is to suppress an inhu- 
man traffic in slaves, carried on within the limits of the coasting 


trade of our immediate dependants and tributaries, and almost under 
our own eyes" {Ihicl. p. 158). But finding how limited were the 
means at his disposal to suppress it even " among our allies," he was 
reluctantly compelled to abandon his plans, and to say, the question 
" must be settled exclusively by the government of India/' The im- 
portant matter was consequently referred to the consideration of the 
supreme authority ; but what became of it after that does not ap- 
pear (76z J. p. 159). 

Into Calcutta a^ well as Bombay, no inconsiderable number of 
African slaves are, from time to time, introduced by Arab traders. In 
1823, the Calcutta Journal called public attention to the "Slave 
trade in British India, in a spirited article, in which it was indig- 
nantly reprobated. " This great capital," said the editor, " is at once 
the depot of the commerce and riches of the East, and the mart in 
which the manacled African is sold, like the beast of the field to the 
highest bidder ! " " We are informed," he adds, " that 150 eu- 
nuchs have been landed from Arab ships this season, to be sold as 
slaves in the capital of British India ! It is known, too, that these 
ships are in the habit of carrying away the natives of this country, 
principally females, and disposing of them in Arabia, in barter for 
African slaves for the Calcutta market ! !" In reference to the eu- 
nuchs, to show the " murderous barbarity resorted to by the WTetches 
engaged in a traffic so revolting to humanity," he states, " A gentle- 
man has informed us that of 200 African boys emasculated at Judda, 
only ten survived the cruel operation" {Ibid. p. 308). The police 
magistrates, who really appear to have had no knowledge of the facts 
of the case, ventured to pronounce the statements in the Calcutta 
Journal to be " grossly exaggerated ;" but at the same time admitted, 
that the only restriction to the importation of slaves into the town, 
consisted in a rule requiring " a list of their crews and passengers, 
from the commanders of a certain class of ships." This they pro- 
nounced a very inadequate means of preventing the slave trade, the 
lists required not being " given upon oath, nor any means taken to 
ascertain their correctness." They also added, "The penalty incurred," 
under the law then in force, " could only be enforced by the detection 
of the ofi'ence, which is attended with much difficulty." They, there- 
fore, suggested that the Custom House officers should visit such ves- 
sels immediately on their arrival at Saugor, "for the purpose of 
taking down a correct list of every person on board of them /' as if 
that would have been sufficient to have prevented the traffic from 
being carried on {Ihid. p. 307). We regret to say, that Mr. Land- 



ford Amot, the editor of the Calcutta Journal^ gQ.\e so much offence 
to the Bengal government by this exposure of the evil, that he was 
summarily deported to England, and his paper suppressed ! 

In June 1830, the following statement appeared in the India 
Gazette : — " Jewellery, and other articles, to the value of four lacks of 
rupees^ had been offered by an European jeweller for sale by the King 
(of Oude), who took other merchandise, in the shape of a batch of 
newly imported Abyssinians, which had been offered for sale and 
bought by his Majesty. This demands," said the editor, " and we 
hope will receive investigation ; and if it is properly conducted, and 
all the obstacles to the prosecution of the offenders be removed, we 
venture to predict that it will be found that the importation of slaves 
continues to he carried on^ to an extent utterly disgraceful." No inquiry 
appears to have taken place ; but in June 1834, we find the chief 
magistrate of Calcutta, addressing Mr. Secretary Bushby, " on the 
subject of adopting further means of preventing the importation of 
slaves into Calcutta, and to'suggest, for the consideration of his honour 
the vice-president in council, that orders should be issued to the pilots, 
requiring them to take diligent notice, and to report to the police 
office, every case where they may have good cause to believe that 
male or female slaves were imported, or might still be in ships." 
It would appear, from a previous communication of the same gentle- 
man to the secretary to the Marine Board, that slaves were introduced 
" into Calcutta from the Persian gulf and other ports," and states, 
that, as the police cannot issue search warrants upon vague and 
general suspicions that vessels might possibly have slaves on board ; 
that, as the slaves themselves cannot complain, and the crew are not 
likely to do so, and that, therefore, " the traffic may go on to some 

extent " . " without the police knowing any thing about 

it ;" he requests the Board would sanction a general order being issued 
to the pilots bringing vessels into this port to report to the police, 
when they might have good cause to believe slaves were on board. 
The order was granted ; but " the Board consider!," as they stated in 
their reply to Mr. M'Farlan, that " the pilots cannot be held responsi- 
ble, should any slaves be landed from any particular vessel " (Ibid. pp. 
219, 220). Beyond the approval of this measure no steps whatever 
appear to have been taken by the Governor in council to put down 
this flagrant abomination. 

To what extent the foreign slave trade may be carried on in the 
presidency of Madras, we find little in the official papers on which 
we can groxmd an estimate. Mr. Baber states the domestic slave 


population of Malabar to consist of the " descendants of outcast 
persons," of those that have been " kidnapped," and of the " natives 
of Arabia, but chiefly of Abyssinia" (Par. Pap. ]28, 1834, p. 11). 
It is quite clear, however, that Musselmen continually resort to " Hy- 
derabad and other ports where the traffic is not prohibited" to purchase 
slaves ; and that " Abyssinian slaves are generally their favourite 
menials " (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 400). Other intimations are given 
of this traffic (Ibid. pp. 183 to 186) ; but as it is not quite certain 
whether the " importations by land " refeiTcd to, properly belong to 
the external or internal slave trade ; we merely call the reader s at- 
tention to them, leaving it to his judgment to decide to which branch 
it belongs. " With regard to the Bombay and Madras presidencies, 
it may be remarked," says Mr. Adam, " that the whole line of the 
western coast of India, by its proximity to the coast of Africa and 
Arabia and to the ports of the Red Sea, present facilities for importa- 
tion, which are increased by the existence on the coast of the Por- 
tuguese settlements of Goa, Damaun, and Diu, under the flag of 
which nation the slave trade has continued to be carried on elsewhere" 
(Law and Custom of Slavery, &c. p. 153, 154). 

How melancholy the reflections to which the forgoing incidental 
notices of the slave trade in British India naturally give rise ! May 
we not repeat the remark of the governor general in 1774, and say 
" There appears no probable way of remedying this calamitous evil 
but by striking at the root of it, and abolishing the right of slaioery it- 
self" (Par. Pap. 1828, E. I. Slavery, p. 3.). 


The sale and purchase of persons legally held as slaves, in British 
India, is everywhere permitted and justified as an incident belonging 
to that species of property ; the sale of children by their parents and 
relatives, especially during seasons of dearth, is, in like manner allowed. 
Thousands are, by the latter permission, annually consigned to per- 
petual slavery. 

In connexion with this melancholy fact, we call attention to another, 
equally so, viz., the rapid decrease in the slave population of British 
India. Mr. Colebrooke, in one of his celebrated minutes on the subject 
of slavery, observes : — " The number of slaves continually diminish- 
ing, a demand constantly exists for the purchase of them, which is 
supplied chiefly by their parents in seasons of scarcity and famine, or 
in circumstances of individual and peculiar distress" (Par. Pap. 138, 
1839, p. 312). Duiing one of such seasons in the Solapoor and ad- 
jacent districts, we learn that the parents, being unable to suppor 



them, either sold or deserted their children, and that some of them 
" were seized and carried off, and disposed of to the best advantage" 
(Ibid. p. 485). What a picture of the wretched state of society in 
India ! Ought not the causes of these famines to be strictly inquired 
into by the government, with a view of ascertaining how far they re- 
sult from the dispensations of providence, or are occasioned by mis- 
government ? We fear it will be found, upon inquiry, that the ap- 
palling calamities of which we so frequently hear, are to be traced 
more frequently to the injustice of man than to the providence of 

In Kumaoon, we learn from Mr. Trail, the commissioner, that 
" individuals of the Dome caste are allowed to be purchased and 
transferred by sale from one master to another, for the purpose of 
cultivation, which is carried on solely by Domes, and that " in accord- 
ance with this rule, thousands of children of both sexes, are annually 
sold " (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 358). The political agent Lieut. Col. 
Young, in a communication relating to this subject, addressed to the 
agent of the Governor of Agra, dated 10th of December 1835, says, 
"the custom of permitting Brahmins to purchase Domes for the 
cultivation of their lands, if it be permitted by government, is liable 
to gross abuse,*' as it was proved in a recent case, " that prostitutes 
were upheld in the purchase of females, for the vilest of purposes " 
(Ibid. p. 358). An attempt was made to check this, by rendering 
the tenure by which slaves were held in Kumaoon uncertain, (Ibid, 
p. 363,) and " the purchasing of slaves for purposes of cultivation, 
was forbidden. Upon a representation, however, of the Rajah Sood- 
ursem Shah, that " the cultivation cannot be continued without pur- 
chasing men for the purpose," the Agent Governor-Gheneral at Delhi, 
C T. Metcalf, Esq., replied, that h e was " aware that it is a common 
practice in the Hill provinces (from Kumaoon to the Sutledge,) to 
traffic in slaves;" and, that knowing it could not be "suddenly sup- 
pressed," he merely recommends the Rajah " to discourage and for- 
bid as much as possible the buying and selling of slaves;" and 
Lieutenant-Colonel Young was ordered "not to interfere farther 
with a view to enforce the execution of the orders issued by him 
within the separate territories of the Rajah" (Ibid. pp. 75, 76, 77)- 
There can be little doubt that the permission to sell children fosters 
improvident marriages, destroys natural affection, generates the most 
wretched habits, and leads to the perpetration of enormous crimes, 
whatever may be said by its apologists in justification of the practice* 
The importation of slaves by land into the company's territories. 


except for purposes of traffic, is not forbidden. We may, therefore, 
expect that they are not only frequently removed from one district to 
another, but are either openly or clandestinely introduced from the 
native states, as occasion may require, without exciting the attention 
of the authorities. " It cannot escape observation," says the Chief 
Judge Leycester, " that the extension of our territory has greatly 
added to the increase of this detestable traffic^ and its far more detesta- 
ble impunity. British protection has had the peculiar property of 
branding nations with slavery, who, as far as we were concerned, 
were protected from it before ; that under the show of British 
liberality and justice lurked the envenomed taint — that successively 
as the ceded provinces were transferred to us, as Nepaul was con- 
quered, and the Mahratta combination annihilated, each act of sove- 
reignty carried with it a secret clause, ' You may now, your wives 
and children, be removed into Bengal, as slaves ; and at the caprice 
of a slave-master, a man's wife being what is termed a slave, may, 
with his children by her, be carried off from him to any remote cor- 
ner of the province, boasting the enjoyment of British protection."' 
This has occurred -, and as to vrhat might happen, they might be 
lotted, and sold at outcry in Calcutta, or put up to the hammer as 
assets in liquidation of a balance of revenue, or in satisfaction of the 
decree of a court of justice !" {Ibid. p. 315.) 

Kidnapping, we have said, is a punishable offence, nevertheless it 
prevails to an enormous extent in British India, and under circum- 
stances truly revolting and atrocious. To produce the whole of the 
evidence on this painful subject would be impossible within the limits 
of this article ; we shall, therefore, confine ourselves to a few notices 
of this abominable incident of Indian slavery. Among those noto- 
riously engaged in stealing children are the Brinjarries, of whom, and 
the great difficulty of controlling their movements, we have some 
account, in a valuable communication of Mr. Williamson's, collector 
of Dhoolia, to the commissioner in the Deccan, dated 30th of July, 
1825. After suggesting certain rules to check the evil, he says, 
" while the free transport of slaves is allowed, and while the sale of 
them is permitted, the practice of kidnapping will be continued? 
whatever penalties may be enacted against it :" and, supposing the 
existence of such rules as he recommends, he observes, " the great 
difficulty will be to give effect to the rule prohibiting the import and 
export of slaves ; for, intimidated by their possessors, the children 
kidnapped, will give any account of themselves that those possessors 
-choose I and custom farmers consider it so much their interest to keep 


on good terms with Brinjarries, and other such traders, that they will 
aflPord but little aid to the wishes of government in respect to such 
prohibition :" . . . and, he adds, " I fear mustering the followers of 
the Brinjarries would have little effect, and might, to elude detection, 

lead to murders, for they are an unfeeling and cruel race ;" 

" and this could be often done without detection. Besides, it would 
he difficult to detect a slave dressed, as it would be, in their own 
clothes ; and, as before alluded to, taught to say it was the child of 
one of themselves, or of a deceased relation " (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, 

p. 437). 

In 1835, in consequence of the discoveries which have been made 
in one of the coilectorates, an order was addressed to the Mamletdars, 
to take measures for the detection and punishment of kidnappers, 
which contained the following reference. " Brinjarees and Lum- 
banees are in the habit of travelling all about the country, and, during 
the sojourn of their thandas near villages, kidnap children, and com- 
mit other robberies, against which it is very essential that immediate 
bundobusts be made. Do you, therefore, inquire and report on the 
best way to prevent children being thus taken away " (Ibid. p. 554). 
Another class engaged in kidnapping children are Dacoits. We 
find a reference to them in a minute of Mr. Robertson's revising 
certain proceedings in the case of one Ongyagain. That functionary 
said, " I have revised the proceedings in this case, and find that the 
woman, whom the petitioner purchased as a slave, was taken by a 
gang of Dacoits, who attacked the village in which she resided, in the 
province of Arrakan, in the day time, murdered four men and nine 
women^ and carried off twenty females as slaves ! " No intimation 
is given that any of these Dacoits were taken and punished ; but we 
are informed Ongyagain and another, who had been sentenced by the 
court which tried them to " imprisonment for seven years with labour 
in irons, for purchasing two slave girls " from these very persons, were 
released, on the gro nd that they had committed " the mere offence 
of purchasing slaves in conformity with the customs of their country!'" 
(Ibid. p. 344.) 

We proceed now to notice another class of Indian kidnappers, 
the Thugs. References to their horrid practices will be found in 
Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 69 ; where they are described as having kid- 
napped children, and very possibly murdered their parents. A pain- 
fully interesting account of this division of the crime of Thuggee will 
be found in the Friend of India^ quoted in the Asiatic Journal, from 
which we make the following abstract. " The Megpunnas (Thugs) 


immolate travellers to obtain their children, whom they afterwards 
sell into slavery. The great founder of this system, Kheama Je- 
madar, was considered a holy man," and " the greater part of the 
gangs who have engaged in this revolting system of murder, sustain 
the character of religious mendicants ; and the system itself is firmly 
believed to be under the patronage of the goddess Kalee. In common 
vrith the Thugs they have a slang language, known to all the initiated. 
Unlike the Thugs, however, they always take their families with them 
on these murderous expeditions ; the females assist in inveigling tra- 
vellers, and in taking charge of the children till they can be disposed 
of. Their victims are generally chosen from the more indigent classes, 
the disappearance of whom is less likely to excit^ suspicion than that 
of more wealthy individuals ; and they find that it is more lucrative, 
as well as more safe, to murder the poor for the sake of their children 
than the opulent for their wealth. The Brinjarries, who are widely 
scattered throughout the upper provinces, are ever ready to receive 
the children of murdered parents, and they enjoy many facilities for 
subsequently distributing them among the brothels of the principal 
cities, or disposing of them to men of wealth and consideration : 
suspicion may be at once lulled by the declaration that the children 
were purchased from indigent parents who had no longer the means 
of supporting them." 

From the depositions of some of these Thugs, who had been 
taken, we make the following extracts. — " Gopaul : ' I murdered, in 
company with a large gang of Thugs, eight travellers at Beloochepore, 
and took six of their children.' 'I never had any other oc- 
cupation.' " Jewan : — ' I murdered four people at Kus- 

seeagunge." ...... Six children of the murdered people were 

recovered. " Khumba (a female) : — ' My husband had a gang of 
forty or fifty men and women, whom I always accompanied on Thug- 
gee. I never performed the office of Sugh Andoss, or strangler.'" 
Three of this woman's sons and two of her relations were hanged 
for the murder of three travellers, whose children they obtained. 
" Radha :-- 'My parents were murdered near the village of Dunkaree 

between 40 and 50 Thugs were present on the occasion.' 

'I was subsequently adopted by Saiga Jemadar a relation 

of Kheama.' 'I have been three or four expeditions with 

him.' ' A poor woman was murdered in my house.' . . I took charge 
of her children (three) while my husband was employed in strangling 

The report of Major Sleeman, from which these particulars have 


been abstracted, closes with a list of 223 Thugs employed in murder- 
ing indigent parents for the sake of their children, all of whom, 
with the exception of forty which had just been captured, were at 

We might pursue this subject further, but we forbear. Enough 
has been said to prove the existence of slavery in its most degrading 
and atrocious forms, in British India ; and to show that its kindred 
abomination the slave-trade prevails to an enormous extent as a 
consequence of its existence. It is also clear that the foreign branch 
of it is marked with the usual revolting features of African slave 
trade, of which it forms a part, vrith the additional enormity, that- 
mutilated individuals are required by the voluptuous Asiatics to watch 
over their harems ; and that the home branch of it is associated with 
all that is debasing in idolatry, and cruel in murder. Iniquities cluster 
thick round the system of Indian slavery ; but, like every other crime 
which has afflicted and disgraced mankind, it may find its apologists ; 
it has found them in men of ability and rank, but vain we trust will 
be their attempts to sustain it against the united efforts and prayers of 
the Christian philanthropists of this country. 

Note. Additional particulars may be found in Par, Pap. No. 128^ 1834, 
No. 138, 1839, and Adam's Law and Custom of Slavery in British India, 
pp. 130 to 194, and pp. 272 to 276. 

No. V. 


Had proper measures been taken by the East India Company to 
discountenance the system of slavery within the territories which suc- 
cessively became subject to its authority, either by conquest, or by 
cession, the evil complained of would scarcely have had an existence 
at the present time. But so far from doing this, the tendency of all 
their measures has been to foster and strengthen the abomination. 
Some feeble attempts have been made, from time to time, to regulate 
its incidents, such as the enactment of rules to prevent the import- 
ation of slaves from foreign states for purpose of traffic^ as well as 
to prohibit the practice of kidnapping, and the sale of children for 
prostitution. The rules, to have been effective in securing the object, 
should have prohibited the importation of slaves under any plea, and 


for any purpose whatsoever. On this point, Mr. Chaplin, a high au- 
thority, makes the following remark : '' The importation of slaves 
from foreign states now stands prohibited by the orders of the su- 
preme government. This, however, has increased the price without 
putting a stop to the traffic" {Adams Law and Custom, &c. p. 149). 
And to have rendered the laws against kidnapping effectual, says 
Mr. Robertson, another excellent authority, " The purchasing of 
slaves under any circumstances, from Brinjarrees, Charons, Gossains, 
or other migratory dealers," should have been forbidden, as well as 
" the free transport of slaves" from one place to another ; for, he 
adds, whilst this (their free transport) is allowed, " the practice of 
kidnapping will be continued, whatever penalties may he enacted against 
it" (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, pp. 436 and 437.) And with respect to 
the latter object, independently of the fact that it would be difficult, 
if not impossible, to frame rules which would not be open to easy 
violation, the mere prohibition of the guilty practice can never extir- 
pate it. Mr. Colebrooke felt the difficulty of the case, and whilst he 
stated it " to be incumbent on government attention to the morals of 
the people over whom it rules, to prevent this practice by prohibitory 
laws," he thought " it might be going too far to presume the inten- 
tion of prostitution ; and to prohibit all instruction for purposes of 
exhibition of dances which the people are very partial to, and which 
are a regular part of their religious festivals and celebrations " {Ibid, 
p. 312). How extensive the evil is may be gathered from the fact, 
that in Rungpoor in 1809, there were 1,200 houses occupied by 
women of that profession, in 295 of which there were found 460 
females between 12 and 25 years of age ; and 218 advanced in life 
who acted as servants and superintendents. All these were purchased 
when children {E. I. Gazetteer, Yol. ii. p. 477). In referring to 
" the abduction of children from their country, their family, and 
their home, for the purpose of devoting them to sensual as well as 
idolatrous purposes," a practice which, " from its origin to its con- 
summation is pronounced to be iniq^uitous," Judge Lascelles says, 
" I believe it to be a well known fact, that there is a large class of 
men who obtain a livelihood by traffic in female children for the use 
of the Pagodas" {Ibid. pp. 388, 392). And as the prostitutes and 
priests are willing to pay the highest prices for the children brought 
to them, there is no lack of an abundant supply. But it appears 
that the penalty of the law is already evaded by the owners of 
nautch or dancing girls, for " instead of sale, as of a slave, it is al- 
ready common to make an engagement for a long term of years !" 


(^Ihid. p. 312). And thus we perceive the folly of attempting to 
regulate a system essentially and incurably vicious. In fact, wherever 
there is a demand for slaves, it matters not for what purpose, means 
will be found to obtain the supply to meet it ; and this remark ap- 
plies as much to their importation by sea as to their introduction by 
land. While slavery itself, the root of these evils, remains un- 
touched, it is vain to expect any cessation of the slave trade in such 
a country as India. 

The laws which make the murder of a slave a capital offence, and 
which admit his testimony as a witness, are undoubtedly great im- 
provements upon the Mahomedan law, but of little practical benefit 
to him in the way of protection. To the redress of his grievances, 
whether of outrage on his person, or any other class of injuries that 
can be inflicted on him, the most formidable obstacles oppose them- 
selves :-— " 1. Distance, and the difficulty of immediate European in- 
terference. 2. The venality of the native local civil servants : and, 
3. The want of energy, and a spirit of inquiry, for the redress of 
grievances on the part of persons in authority, who often leave the 
investigation of complaints to their Cutcherry servants. The latter 
often possess so great an influence over their European masters as to 
bias their actions and better inclinations, by the plausible turns they 
can give to any inquiry carried on in a strange language" (Par. Pap. 
128, 1804, p. 38). To these remarks of Captain Bevan, may be 
added those of Mr. Baber : He says, " The commission of violence, 
or of any offence upon the persons of slaves, does not affect their 
state of bondage ; and that the ruling power has not the right of 
granting their manumission ; and what slave" asks the learned judge, 
" under such circumstances^ dare appeal to the laws ? Again," he ob- 
serves, " there is the difficulty of informing slaves of the laws, from 
their want of intelligence, and the distance they are kept at by the 
native establishments ; the expense and uncertainty of obtaining re- 
lief under them ; and, above all, as I before hinted, the dread of 
attempting to oppose a power beneath which it has become habitual 
to bend ; all which must, and does give almost impunity to tyranni- 
cal masters" {lUd. p. 14). In another place referring to certain 
" horrid barbarities' which had been inflicted on four slaves, from 
the effects of which one of them appears to have died, Mr. Baber 
adds, " The slaves themselves preferred no complaint ; but if it is to 
depend on the slaves themselves to sue for the protection of the laws, 
their situation must be hopeless indeed ; for having no means of sub- 
sistence independent of their owners and employers, their repairing 


to, and attending upon a public Cutcherry, is a thing physically im- 
possible ; and even if those provisions of the regulations that require 
all complaints to be preferred in writing were dispensed with in fa- 
vour of the slaves ; and they were exempted from the payment of 
tolls at the numerous ferries they would have to pass; and though 
an allowance was made to them by government during their deten- 
tion at the Cutcherries and Courts, unless forfeiture of the right of 
property over slaves was the penalty for ill usage^ their situation would 
only become more intolerable than it was before they complained" {Ibid. 
p. 15). 

It was formerly the custom to sell slaves, as well as land, seized by 
the Board of Revenue in Madras, to pay arrears of taxes. In a re- 
port of Sir Thomas Munro, dated 16th July, 1822, he states that, 
in one single talook (out of sixty-three in Malabar) 1,330 rice fields 
were sold in the year 1818, in order to satisfy public balances ! And 
Mr. Yaughan admits " thfe sale of slaves, at that period, for arrears of 
revenue," to be as " common as the sale of land." Through the repeated 
remonstrances, however, of Mr. Baber against this practice, an order 
was issued in 1819, prohibiting the sale of slaves in future, on ac- 
count of arrears of revenue in Malabar," where alone, it was said, 
" the practice has obtained." Whether this order has been strictly 
enforced we have no means of judging ; but it is a remarkable fact 
that Mr. Baber, who resided in Malabar to the end of 1828, never 
heard of its existence up to that period ! He found it inserted in 
the parliamentary papers on East India Slavery issued that year, 
which he was led to examine some time after {Ibid. p. 21). If 
slaves are not now sold with the land seized to pay arrears of revenue, 
what becomes of them ? Are not their owners compelled to sell 
them for that purpose ? 

But it would appear that the selling of slaves by order of the 
Courts for payment of arrears of revenue or other purposes, existed 
in other districts than Malabar. Mr. J. F. Thomas, Criminal Judge 
of Combaconum, adverts to this subject in a communication to the 
register of the Provincial Court, dated 3rd December, 1832, in the 
following terms : — " I take this opportunity to remark, that the re- 
cords of this court show that sales of slaves, under the orders of the 
Court, have taken place in the Trinchnopoly division of this Zillah ; 
a clause, therefore, would be required in the event of the enactment 
of the provisions of the Bengal code, either prohibiting of this prac- 
tice, or limiting the right of purchase in such sales to the residents 
within the Zillah" (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 392). In 1830, the ma- 


gistrates of Canara informed Mr. Newnham, that "the Courts in 
Canara daily put up slaves for sale as they would any other move- 
able property!" If, says the learned judge, "the sale of slaves, like 
other personal property, by the officers of justice, in execution of de- 
crees of court, be altogether true, it would be time to drop the style 
of language by which slavery is still, in this, the thirtieth year of 
British rule over Canara, and thirty-eighth of the rule in Malabar, 
stated to be only tolerated." No remedy, that we can learn, was ever 
applied to this crying evil. The Foujdarry Adawlut, to whom this 
subject, among others, was referred, dismissed it in the following 
terms : — " The court abstain from any remark on the general subject 
of slavery in Malabar, as the government have stated their intention 
to wait for orders from England before they disturb the existing state 
of things in Malabar !" (Ibid. p. 405. J Alas ! for the poor slaves. 

In 1819, Mr. Campbell informs us that, among other recommenda- 
tions to check the growth of slavery, and alneliorate the condition of 
slaves, he recommended "that all slaves attached to lands escheating 
to government should be declared free." But as this, as well as all 
his other "recommendations, was merely " ordered to be recorded" 
(Ibid. p. 36^, there', is an inference deducible from it to which 
special attention should be called : " As lands and estates with slaves 
attached to them are assumed to be, and in fact are, from time to 
time, escheating to government ; and as the rule is to retain such 
lands and estates," says Mr. Adam, " in the possession of govern- 
ment, it follows by the clearest implication that the proprietors of 
East India stock are in their own right, as a chartered and incorpo- 
rated Company, the owners and masters of the slaves attached to 
those lands and estates; and that the half-yearly dividends which 
they draw from India are in part the direct and indubitable produce 
of slave-labour, and suffering, and degradation" (Lmv and Custom, 
&c. p. 21 2 J. The only instance we can find recorded of the volun- 
tary manumission of slaves by the Company, took place in 1836. In 
that year the slaves attached to the Punnay estates, in Coorg, were 
emancipated. They were probably about two to three hundred in 
number, men, women, and children (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 79). 
But were these all that were, and still are held in bondage by the 
Company ? It were a disgrace indeed that the honourable Com- 
pany of merchants trading to the East should, in common with the 
directors and shareholders of the Brazilian Mining Associations, 
continue to derive any part of their income from a source so infamous 
and unhallowed ! 


'^ We now propose to show that the Company has fostered and 
strengthened the atrocious system of slavery in British India ; and 
that, with a few honourable exceptions, their servants, in the highest 
and the lowest offices, have either been its apologists, or have but 
feebly exerted themselves to mitigate its character, and introduce a 
better state of things. 

1. The Company has sanctioned the interpretation of the rule of 
1793, by which a legal existence has been given to the Mahomedan 
and Hindoo slave codes, (with one or two modifications, subsequently 
introduced,) contrary to every principle of just reasoning, and the 
sacred obligations of duty. 

2. The Company has sanctioned the subsequent enslavement of 
multitudes of free and innocent persons, contrary if not to usage, yet, 
it would appear, both to Mahomedan and Hindoo law, and their 
posterity after them, by which the constantly decreasing number of 
the slave population has been kept up and increased. 

3. The Company has sanctioned the unrestricted sale of slaves, 
supposed to belong to persons subject to their authority, by which the 
tenderest ties of social life have been totally disregarded and families 
broken up ; and by which an extensive system of kidnapping has 
been created with all its attendant horrors. 

4. The Company has sanctioned the free importation of slaves 
into their territories, except for purposes of traffic, from foreign states, 
by which their number has been augmented, and an external slave 
trade actually encouraged. 

5. The company has sanctioned the rule, that " a slave entering its 
territories does not become free, nor can he who was lawfully a slave 
emancipate himself, by running away from one country, where sla- 
very is lawful, to another where slavery is equally lawful. The 
property in the slave still continues in the master, and the master 
has the same right to have it restored to him, that any native subject 
of our territories could have, supposing that right to be established in 
the mode prescribed by the local laws and regulations !" (Par. Pap. 
138, 1839, p. 380.) 

6. The company has sanctioned the continued slavery of large 
numbers of free persons, acknowledged by their own servants to be 
illegally held in bondage: — " Thousands of whom" says Mr. Mac- 
naj.hten, " are at this moment living in a state of hopeless and con- 
tented (?), though UNAUTHORIZED hondage (Adams Laio and 
Custom^ &c. p. 239). And this remark is applicable, according to 


Mr. NeAvnham, to " tlie numerous class of Dhers,' and to other " osten- 
sible or reputed Slares" in Malabar. (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 415). 

7. And, finally, the company has uniformly resisted every bond 
Jide attempt to abolish slavery in British India ; and refused to adopt 
any measures, the direct tendency of which vras to ameliorate the 
condition of the degraded and wretched slaves. 

We have no wish to deti-act from the general merits of the com- 
pany's servants in India; but we deeply regret to say, that, with 
comparatively few exceptions, they have not . opposed themselves to 
the system of slavery unhappily established there ; and that not a 
few of them have been its apologists and advocates. To particularize 
might appear invidious, and would probably serve no useful purpose ; 
we therefore refer to the numerous documents on East India slavery, 
which have been laid before parliament, from 1828 to 1839, both 
inclusive, for details on this painful subject ; and content ourselves, 
for the present, with this single observation, namely, that slavery ex- 
ists in British India unchecked as to its extent, and unmitigated as to 
its form, and that this state of things is mainly attributable to the 
company's servants, acting under its instructions, or in view of its 
policy in this matter ; and that, whilst the utmost latitude of exposi- 
tion has been given to every rule which sanctioned, or was supposed 
to sanction, the hateful system, by the supreme authority, from the 
time of Lord Cornwallis to that of the present governor general, the 
most limited intei-pretation has been put upon every law, British or 
native, the tendency of which was to curb it, or to destroy its revolt- 
ing adjunct, the slave trade. 

The official information laid before government, previously to 
1833, determined the ministry of Earl Grey to grapple with the evil, 
and, on the renewal of the company's charter, to fix the period beyond 
which its existence should not be prolonged in British India. 

In conformity with this determination, a clause was introduced 
into the East India Charter Bill as follows, viz : — " And whereas it 
is expedient that slavery should cease in the said territories, as soon 
as sufficient time has elapsed for making such provisions, as 
the change of the condition of the numerous class of persons therein 
now in a state of slavery may appear to require ; be it therefore enac- 
ted, that all rights over any persons, by reason of such persons being 
in a state of slavery, shall cease throughout the said territories on the 

SEVEN : provided always, that it shall be lawful for the governor 


general in council, to make laws or regulations for the extinction 
of slavery, either entirely or injpart, previously to the said twelfth 
of April, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven, throughout 
the said territories, or any part of them." The bill was brought into 
the House of Commons on the 28th June, 1833, and thus four years 
were allowed to make the necessary arrangements in India, to meet 
the contemplated change in the condition of its servile population, 
snpposing it could not be accomplished within a shorter period. 

In the summary of the main provisions of the India bill, transmit- 
ted to the chairman of the East India company, Mr. Grant thus refer- 
red to the measure : — " As to the natives, besides placing them on a 
level with the British in point of lands, there are two enactments. 
First. No person, native or natural bom in India, is to be excluded 
from any office, merely by reason of his religion, birth-right, descent, 
or colour. Second. Slavery, after a specified period, to be abolished." 
The answer of the Court of Directors to this official communication 
was as follows : — " Any plan which may be calculated to improve 
the condition of the natives, by abolishing slavery, without doing 
violence to the feelings of caste, or the rights of property, cannot fail 
to meet with the court's cordial approbation." This wary and plaus- 
ible answer contained the germs of that hostility to the measure, 
which became so apparent at the meeting of the Court of Directors, 
on the 5th July, 1833, when Mr. St. George Tucker and Mr. Jenkin 
vehemently opposed it. The consequence was, that the clause was 
modified on the second reading of the bill, and stood thus :— " And 
whereas it is expedient that slavery should cease throughout the said 
territories. Be it enacted, that the said governor general in council 
shall, and he is hereby required to frame laws and regulations for 
the extinction of slavery, having due regard to the laws of marriage, 
and the rights and authorities of fathers and heads of families ; and 
that the said governor-general in council shall on or before the 1st 
day of January, 1835, and on every first day of January, from that 
time forward, report to the Court of Directors the progress which he 
shall have made in fi'aming such laws and regulations ; and that the 
Court of Directors shall, within fourteen days after the receipt of such 
report, if parliament shall then be sitting, or otherwise within four- 
teen days after the next meeting of parliament, lay such reports 
before both Houses of Parliament." "When the clause came up for 
discussion, it gave rise to an animated debate, in which Sir Robert 
Harry Inglis took a conspicuous part, and was sustained by Mr. 
Cutlar Ferguson, Mr. Buller, and others. The system was patriar- 


chal, it was the result of caste, it was a religious institute, it was. 
altogether different from West India slavery, it must be approached 
with caution, the natives were most jealous of any interference with 
their domestic habits ; their harems and zenanas were declared to be 
places of " sanctity," an intrusion into which would excite rebellion 
from Cape Comorin to the Himalaya mountains, and from the mouth 
of the Ganges to the Persian Grulf. On the other hand, it was con- 
tended, that slavery and caste were perfectly distinguishable from 
each other, that it formed no part of the religion of the natives of 
India, either Mahomedan or Hindoo ; and as to its character, Mr. 
Grant observed, " I have no hesitation in saying, that I do not be- 
lieve that slavery exists anywhere in a more loathsome form than in 
some of the countries of the East Indies ;" that the design of the 
clause was not to interfere with domestic servitude, but only with 
prsedial slavery ; and with regard to the danger to be apprehended 
from its abolition, Mr. Macaulay, then secretary to the India board, 
said, " The Board of Control has been in communication with some 
of the most able of the civil servants of the company ; and they all 
assure me that they do not anticipate any danger from our endea- 
vouring to get rid of slavery, if proper caution be used to prevent 
interference with the domestic habits of the people ;" and then, to 
quiet the fears of the member for the University of Oxford, he added, 
*' No danger is to be apprehended from an interference with the 
zenanas, as this is prohibited in the words, ' due regard shall be paid 
to the laws of marriage :' those who live in the zenanas may be con- 
sidered as coming under this class, the connexion in these cases is a 
^uasi marriage." The first part of the clause, as it passed at the 
third reading of the bill, on the 27th July, was as follows : — " And 
whereas, it is expedient that slavery should cease throughout the said 
territories ; be it enacted, that the said governor -general shall, and he 
is hereby required forthwith to frame laws and regulations for the 
extinction of slavery, having due regard to the laws of marriage, and 
the rights and authorities of fathers of families." The latter part of 
the clause stood as before. 

Four days after the second reading of the bill the Court of Direc- 
tors met again, when the hostility of certain honourable gentlemen 
to the limited measure of emancipation, contemplated in the 
clause referred to, degenerated into violence and misrepresentation. 
^' What !" said Mr. Randall Jackson, " are all the fair inhabitants of 
the seraglios, all the harems, all the attached attendants of the Sepoy 
soldiers, all to be declared free on the same day and the same hour ? 


Are domestJfe inmates to be sliown abroad to the world ?" A mere 
reference to tbe clause, and to the debate which took place upon it 
would have shown the learned gentleman that it was framed with a 
special design to prevent the intrusion which he feared ; and that no 
period was fixed when freedom should be enjoyed by any portion of 
the servile population of India. 

Although the clause, as it originally stood in the India Bill, had 
been shorn of its chief glories in its progress through the Commons, 
it was doomed to undergo further mutilations in the House of Lords. 
There it encountered the opposition of the Duke of "Wellington, 
Lord Ellenborough, the Earl of Harrowby, and the Marquis of Salis- 
bury. Lord Ellenborough pronounced the clause " useless and unneces- 
sary;" and said that if it passed, " it would not only excite the indigna- 
tion of the landed proprietors, but it would, at the same time, shake 
the confidence and the allegiance of the native officers." The Duke of 
"Wellington said, " Though I entertain no doubt whatever that slavery 
does exist in that country — domestic slavery in particular, to a very 

considerable extent." ''I would recommend the striking of 

this clause from the Bill." "I know that in the hut of every 

Musselman soldier in the Indian army, there is a female slave, who 
accompanies him in all his marches ; and I would recommend your 
lordships to deal lightly with this matter if you wish to retain your 
sovereignty in India." The Earl of Harrowby thought the Bill 
ought not to be printed and circulated with the words "extinction of 
slavery" in it. The Marquis of Salisbury considered slavery in India 
to be "nothing more than an affair of caste." Lord Auckland 
agreed with the noble duke, " that the subject of slavery ought to 
be handled with tenderness and caution. I deprecate," said the no- 
ble lord, " interference in anything which is a matter of caste ; but 
then there exists in India also^ a most atrocious system of slavery, to 
which the same consideration ought not to be extended." The dis- 
cussion resulted in the striking out of the preamble of the clause 
which declared it to be expedient that slavery should be abolished in 
British India ; and, said the Marquis of Lansdowne, " to remove all 
danger of too rash or rapid an extinction of slavery," it will be made 
" imperative on the Governor- General to send home an account of 
all intended regulations and proceedings on the subject previously to 
carrying them into execution." The clause was then altered as fol- 

jQ^g . <'<■ ^nd be it further enacted, that the said Governor-General in 

Council shall, and he is hereby required forthwith, to take into con- 
sideration the means of mitigating the state of slavery ; and of 

E ( 


ameliorating the condition of the slaves, and of extinguishing slavery 
throughout the said territories, so soon as such extinction shall be 
practicable and safe ; and from time to time to prepare and transmit 
to the said Court of Directors, drafts of laws and regulations for the 
purposes aforesaid; and that in preparing such drafts, due regard 
*shall be had to the laws of marriage, and the rights and authorities 
of fathers and heads of families ; and that such drafts shall forthwith, 
after receipt thereof, be taken into consideration by the said Court of 
Directors, who shall, with all convenient speed, communicate to the 
said Governor-General in Council, their instructions on the drafts of 
the said laws and regulations ; but no such laws and regulations 
shall be promulgated, or put in force, without the previous consent 
of the said Court ; and the said Court shall, within fourteen days 
after the first meeting of parliament in every year, lay before both 
Houses of Parliament, a report of the drafts of such rules and regu- 
lations as shall have been received by them, and of their resolutions 
thereon" (3rd and 4th Gul. TV., cap. 85, sect. 88). 

In commenting upon the alterations which had been made in the ori- 
ginal clause, that excellent nobleman, the late Lord Suffield, observed, 
" I cannot forbear the expression of my regret that it has been thought 
fit to alter the original clause in any way, and particularly by the omis- 
sion of the preamble. The statements which have been made respect- 
ing the alarm likely to be created throughout India by the retention of 
the preamble, are wholly and entirely groundless ; and, I believe, have 
been put forth as a mere bugbear by persons who are opposed to the 
Bill, in order to frighten your lordships into its rejection." His lord- 
ship added, " I cannot but express my surprise that whenever the 
sacred cause of slavery is attacked, there should always be found 
certain noble lords its sure and ready advocates. Your lordships are 
sure to be told that the subject must be approached with the greatest 
caution, and that there is danger in any interference at all. I trust," 
Lord Suflfield continued, " that I shall be among the first to admit at 
all times, the claims of the noble duke on the gratitude of his coun- 
trymen, for his great military exploits ; but I must be allowed to ex- 
press my astonishment, that he, by whose exertions the despotism of 
one man was overthrown, should be, on all occasions, the advocate 
of the system of slavery by which the despotism of a thousand 
tyrants is maintained." In conclusion, his lordship remarked, "I 
feel myself bound to say a few words with respect to the condition 
of those unfortunate individuals in a state of slavery in the East 
Indies ; and I must observe, in the outset, that I can perceive no dis- 


tinction between their situation and that of the slaves in the West 
Indies. They are both subject to excessive toil, deficiency of food 
and clothing, cruelty of punishment, degradation of character, to the 
separation of families by sale, and to deprivation of property ; and 
they are kept in a state of the grossest immorality by the utter disre- 
gard of the sacred ties of marriage. But above all, there is observed 
in the East, as in the West, the striking fact of the decrease of the 
population among the class of agrestic slaves, while all the other 
classes around them increase in number. For this, I refer your lord- 
ships to the evidence before your committee. The cruelties to which 
the slaves in the East Indies, especially in Malabar, are subject, are 
as great, if not greater, than those inflicted on the slaves in the West 
Indies. I could mention the case of four slaves, so recently as the 
year 1823, having their noses amputated by way of punishment ! one 
of them died under the severity of the chastisement ; and no step 
was taken to bring the perpetrators of this outrage to justice. This 
occurred in Malabar ; and its recital may be found in the Circuit 

Report for the second session of 1823." " One word more 

only as to the pretended alarm ; I hold in my hand a copy of a pe- 
tition presented to the House of Commons some time ago, signed by 
four thousand most respectable persons, Hindoos, Parsees, and Ma- 
homedans ^ in which, after expressing their approbation of the con- 
duct of Sir Alexander Johnstone, in promoting the abolition of 
slavery in Ceylon, the petition concludes w^ith these expressions : — 
' Illustrious legislators, benefactors of the human race, your persever- 
ing exertions to abolish the trade of slavery, have spread the fame of 
your humanity over all the world/ I thinjs this is a sufficient proof 
that the natives of India would not be alarmed by the passing of a 
law for the abolition of slavery ; and I conclude, by repeating the ex- 
pression of my regret that the honest declaration in the preamble of 
the original clause is not to be promulgated." 

We cannot forbear appending to the statements of Lord Suffield, 
extracts from an important communication of Mr. J. Yibart, Acting 
Criminal Judge, dated 30th November, 1825, addressed to the secre- 
tary to the government, in reply to his letter requiring Mr. Yibart's 
opinion " as to the expediency of abolishing, either totally or in part, 
the sale of slaves throughout the territories under this presidency" 
(Bombay). That gentleman having " given the subject every con- 
sideration," and "instituted every inquiry in his power," observes, 
" there exists no valid objections, at least in this part of the country, 
to the practice being entirely abolished." Mr. Yibart then states his 



persuasion that " the total abolition of the practice would be very ac- 
ceptable to the higher and respectable class of Hindoos ;" for, he 
adds, " one of their chief objections to the practice, and which most 
forcibly tends to make them wish for its abolition is, that by it a great 
number of Hindoo childi-en of all castes are sold as slaves to Ma- 
homedans, and consequently are brought up in the Mahomedan 
faith/' And he further adds, " I do not apprehend that the Mahome- 
dans, amongst whom the practice is most prevalent, would offer any 
great objection to its being aboHshed; and even if they did, I hum- 
bly venture to think, they would not be deserving of any great con- 
sideration, since almost all the children sold as slaves, are born of 
Hindoo parents ; and considering also the small proportion the Ma- 
homedans bear to the Hindoos, who, I have observed before, are in 
in favour of abolition" (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 449). Even the 
commissioner in the Deccan, Mr. Chaplain, admits that though " the 
want of slave-girls would be a great inconvenience in the families of 
Mahomedans of rank, who always employ a number for household 
purposes; but both in the case of Kunchenies, (dancing women), and 
in the domestic slavery of the Mahomedans, the inconvenience that 
may be sustained by the abolition of the practice of buying and sell- 
ing slaves would soon remedy itself, as the demand for service would, 
probably, soon be supplied by free competition, as it is in ail other 
commodities." (Ibid. p. 435). 

On the 24th August the Lords' amendment, or rather their altera- 
tions, were agreed to by the House of Commons ; and on the 28th 
the bill for the better government of India received the royal assent ; 
but instead of the clause for the absolute " extinction of slavery," and 
the cessation of " all rights over any persons," on the 12th of April, 
1837, another was framed, which bound up the hands of the govern- 
ments in India, and deprived them of the power which they pre- 
viously possessed. The supreme government was reduced to a mere 
council of state, whose only function was the drafting of laws and 
regulations, to be submitted to the Court of Directors in Leadenhall 
Street ; and who, in their turn, were merely called upon to report to 
both Houses of Parliament such drafts and regulations, and their own 
resolutions thereon ! 


We now proceed to show the steps taken by the company, to carry 
the clause, such as it was, into effect. Sixteen months were allowed 
to elapse, after the India bill had become law, before the Court of 


Directors transmitted their instructions respecting slavery to the 
goyernor-general. From the public letter which contained them we 
make the following extracts, which will show how far they were in- 
clined to go in the abolition of slavery, and the utter hopelessness of 
expecting their co-operation in this great and necessary work, unless 
compelled thereto by the irresistible voice of public opinion. 

" Para. 71. Among the objects to which your legislative delibera- 
tions are earliest to be directed, there is one to which we have not as 
yet adverted, that of the mitigation of the state of slavery, with a 
view to its extinction at the first safe period. The 88th clause of the 
act contains the provisions on this head." 

" 72. This subject in India is one of great delicacy, and requiring 
to be treated with the utmost discretion. There are certain kinds of 
restraint required, accordmg to native ideas, for the government of 
famihes, and forming, according both to law and custom, parts of the 
rights of the heads of famiUes, Musselman and Hindoo, which are not 
to be included under the title, slavery. In legislating therefore on 
slavery, it may not be easy to define the term precisely, it is neces- 
sary that the state to which your measures are meant to apply should 
be described with due care. We think also that your remedial mea- 
sures should generally begin with the cases of the greatest hard- 

" 73. Of the two kinds of slavery, prsedial and domestic, there is 
not a great deal of the former. It exists mostly on the Malabar 
coast, and the new territories on our north-east frontier, and there, it 
would appear, the cases of the greatest hardship are found, though the 
vague information we possess on the subject leaves the state of the 
evil in no small uncertainty. Domestic slavery in India is generally 
mild. The origin of a great part of it is in seasons of scarcity, when 
a parent who is unable to maintain his child sells him to some person 
of ample means. To dissolve such a connexion by forcible means 
would in general be ta inflict an injury on the emancipated indivi- 
dual. The means of escape where the colour, features, and shape of 
the slave are not distinguished from those of other classes, and in a 
country of vast extent, facilitating distant removal, are so easy, that 
the treatment of a slave cannot be worse than that of an ordinary 
servant, without giving him an adequate motive to abscond ; and the 
market value is so small that it is seldom worth while to be at the 
trouble of sending after him." ^ 

« 74 We think that the law should be made as severe against 
injuries done to a slave, as if they were done to any other person, and 

54 ' 

his access to the judge, for the purpose of preferring a complaint, 
should be facilitated to the utmost." 

" 75. With respect to cases for emancipation, it appears to us evi- 
dent that the desire for it, on the part of the slave, should always be 
previously ascertained. The declaration of the desire should be made 
to the judge, and access to him, for that purpose, ought to be equally 
facilitated. The next question will be, what means should be adopt- 
ed for his emancipation. Compensation will be due to the owner, 
but that will seldom be a heavy charge. The business however, in 
all its parts, should be regulated by precise rules, into the detail of 
which we shall not enter ; and every case of emancipation should be 
a judicial proceeding, investigated and decided by the judge" (Ibid. 
p. 22). 

We need scarcely point out to the intelligent reader that whilst 
instructions such as these can never accomplish even the limited ob- 
jects contemplated by the British legislature, they are admirably, if 
not studiously framed to contravene them. To the emancipation of 
any slave, legally or illegally held in bondage, three things are re- 
quired. 1. That " the desire for it on the part of the slave, should 
always be previously asc^tained." (How, when, where, by whom 
is this to be ascertained?) 2. That " every (Tase for emancipation 
should be a judicial proceeding, investigated and decided by the 
judge ;" (who is to pay the expense attendant on such legal process ? 
On whom will the burden of proof be thrown? How will the slave 
gain access to the courts ?) and, 3. That " compensation" should be 
given to the owner ! (Who will have to pay this— the poor slave or 
the Company ?) We will not trust ourselves to comment on these 
instructions, nor on the apology which the Court of Directors ojQfer 
for the mode in which domestic slavery is kept up ; but we would 
respectfully, yet firmly, tell the members who compose it, that they 
cannot be allowed to remain the arbiters of the fate of the slave 
population in British India, nor to stand much longer between them 
and their imdoubted rights. 

On the 31st August, 1835, the communication of the Court of 
Directors was acknowledged by the governor- general, in the follow- 
ing terms : — " The delicate question of slavery in India will shortly 
be referred to the consideration of the Law Commission ; at present 
it is only necessary to communicate our cordial agreement in the just, 
enlightened, and moderate views entertained by your honourable 
court upon this subject, as expressed in these paragraphs" (Ibid. 
p. 30). Two years had now been suffered to elapse, and not a single 


step had been taken to carry the intentions of parliament into effect, 
although the governor-general in council was required '^forthwith to 
take into consideration the means of mitigating the state of slavery ; 
and of ameliorating the condition of the slaves, and of extinguishing 
slavery throughout the said territories, so soon as such extinction 
should be practicable and safe." 


Impatient of the delay which had taken place, Mr. (now Sir 
Fowell) Buxton, on the 29th of July, 1836, called the attention of 
the House of Commons to the subject, when Sir John Cam Hob- 
house, the President of the Board of Control, concluded an expla- 
natory speech on the state of the question, by saying, " I shall cer- 
tainly draw the attention of the Court of Directors to the fact, that, 
no law or regulation for the amelioration of the state of the slaves 
there, has been transmitted as yet to the home government. I repeat 
that there shall be nothing wanting, on my part, to carry into effect 
what, no doubt, was the intention of the legislature." A correspon- 
dence thereupon took place between him and the chairman and 
deputy chairman of the East India Company 'which added nothing to 
the amount of information already possessed, and which promised 
nothing for the future {Ihid. p. 36). 

In 1837, Sir Fowell Buxton renewed his inquiries, when Sir John 
Hobhouse said : — " I beg to state that I wiU take an early oppor- 
tunity to call the attention of the Court of Directors to the matter, 
with the view of ascertaining whether any plans have been yet framed 
in India for the amelioration of the condition of the slaves there ; and 
I can assure my honourable friend that the Board of Control will di- 
rect its best attention to the subject." 

The parliamentary session of 1838 was allowed to pass without any 
questions being asked, or any information given, relative to the 
deeply interesting subject of slavery in India. In 1839, however, in 
reply to a question of Mr. E wart's, the President of the India board 
stated : " There is a commission sitting in India upon the subject of 
slavery, and that as soon as its labours should be concluded, a report 
would be forwarded to this country. " We presume Sir J. C. Hob- 
house meant that the subject had been referred to the law commission 
to report thereon, not that a special commission had been appointed 
tor the purpose of investigating it. 1840 passed without the produc- 
tion of such report, or any communication being made to the legis- 
lature of the progress made in carrying the law of 1833 into effect. 


It may appear extraordinary to some that the anti- slavery societies 
of this country should have failed, under the foregoing circumstances, 
to have grappled with the subject, and, with their usual energy and 
perseverance, have sought its overthrow; hut, the fact is, the im- 
pression generally prevailed that slavery in British India had been 
actually abolished on the renewal of the East India charter : — added to 
this, it was not until 1838 that their exertions against slavery in the 
West Indies was crowned with success by the abolition of the ap- 
prenticeship system. The time has now, however, fully come, when 
they dare not confine their attention to private solicitations, but must 
openly take the field against the great iniquity, nor allow any con- 
siderations of policy to interfere with the great duty they owe to their 
humanity and religion. The Eight Honourable Dr. Lushington, not 
less in compliance with the earnest wish of the committee of the 
British and Foreign Anti-slavery Society, than prompted by his well- 
known principles, and generous self-devotion to the cause of the suf- 
fering and degraded slave, has given notice of his determination to 
bring on the subject for discussion, as soon as the papers recently 
sent home from India are printed. In the mean time every Anti- 
slavery Society throughout the country must do its duty by the cir- 
culation of information on the subject, by petitions to both houses of 
the legislature for its immediate and entire abolition, by addresses to 
their representatives in parliament, and .by such other legitimate 
means as may, under the divine "blessing, accomplish their object 
speedily and effectually. To Dr. Lushington we sincerely trust is 
reserved the high satisfaction, before the close of his useful and 
honourable career in the Commons House of Parliament, to secure 
the liberty of every slave in every part of the British empire ; and to 
obtain the fiat of the imperial legislature, that all its territories and 
dependencies, like the mother country itself, shall henceforth be the 
asylum and home only of the free ! 

No. YI. 


The number of slaves in this colony, previous to 1806, cannot be 
ascertained from official documents, though they are believed to have 
formed a numerous body. The domestic and field slaves are usually 
classed under the denomination of Covias, Nalluas, and Pallas. 


On the 14th of August, 1806, General Maitland passed a regula- 
tion by which all slaves, not duly registered within four months from 
that period, were declared free. On the 27th of May, 1808, seven- 
teen months after, it having been found that the regulation had not 
been generally complied with, the term for registration was extended 
for a period of six months longer^, viz., to the 27th of November, 
1808. This regulation was neglected also ; but the penalty of for- 
feiture consequent thereon was never exacted. 

On the 10th of July, 1816, Sir Alexander Johnstone, then chief 
justice of Ceylon, recommended to its inhabitants, the holders of 
slaves, to declare all the children born of slaves from and after the 
12th of August, 1816, being the Prince Regent's (afterwards George 
the lY.) birth-day, free, and declarations to this effect were made by 
the Dutch inhabitants, and Burghers, Cingalese, Malabars, Moors, 
and a variety of other persons interested in slave property. 

On the 5th of August, 1818, Sir Robert Brownrigg issued a regu- 
lation for securing to certain children, emancipated by the proprietors, 
the full benefit of such proprietors intentions ; and for establishing 
an efficient registry of all slaves, and abolishing the joint tenure of 
property in the same. " The period allowed 'for making the registry 
was within three months from the date of this regulation," viz. to the 
5th of November, 1818. Penalty for non -registration, forfeiture of 
slave or slaves and their children who shall be and are declared 
absolutely free." 

In a despatch from Lord Bathurst, dated 20th of June, 1817, in 
which his Lordship recommended the foregoing registration, he says, 
" the more rigidly its provisions are enforced, the more will it meet 
my cordial concurrence." 

The number of slaves in Jaffnapatam and Trincomalee at this 
period was estimated as follows, viz. 

Domestics ...... 2,000 

Covia, Nallua, and Palla slaves . . 20,000 

In all . 22,000 

From the passing of the foregoing regulation to the 10th of May, 
1821, a period of nearly three years, we have no report of the progress 
of the measures contemplated by it. 

On the 10th of May, 1821, Sir Edward Barnes informs Lord 


Bathurst of the passage of a regulation for the gradual emancipation 
of all female children of the Covia, Nallua, and Palla castes, by the 
purchase of their master's interest in such female slave child at the 
period of her birth. The date of the regulation was the 17th of April, 
1821, and its enactments were to take effect from the 24th of April, 
1821, the time of his Majesty's (George the Third) birth-day. " The 
price to be paid was the sum of three rix dollars if the mother is of 
the Covia caste, and the sum of two rix dollars if she be of the 
Nallua or Palla caste. The number of grown up females of these 
castes was reckoned at that period to be 9,000. Annual number of 
births of female children estimated at 2,500." The result of all these 
measures may be seen in an extract of a report from Lieut. Colonel 
Colebrooke, one of his Majesty's commissioners of inquiry, upon the 
administration of the government of Cevlon, dated 24th of Decem- 
ber, 1831, viz. " There is reason to infer that some of the subordi- 
nate castes were originally slaves, who in the revolutions of the 
country were left to provide for their own subsistence, and were 
recognized on the footing of servile castes, deriving their subsistence 
from the land, and in the Kandyan provinces it has been a custom 
for debtors to become the slaves of their creditors. Personal slavery, 
however, is nearly extinct in the Cingalese provinces ; (this was an 
error) ; but it still exists among the Malabars in the northern dis- 
tricts of Ceylon. The number of slaves in the district of Jaffna, ac- 
cording to the returns of 1824 , was 15,350. The number of domes- 
tic slaves throughout the maritime provinces does not exceed 1,000, 
and they are chiefly the property of the Dutch inhabitants and their 
descendants, who, in 1816, agreed to enfranchise the children bom 
of them after that date.'* " The slaves of the Malabar districts were 
first registered in 1806, and in 1818 provision was made for annul- 
ling all joint ownership of slaves, and for enabling all slaves to re- 
deem their freedom by purchase." 

" To lead to the abolition of slavery, a regulation was passed in 
1821 for the emancipation of aU female slave children by purchase at 
their birth, the government engaging to pay to their owners the sum 
of two or three rix dollars, according to the caste of the mother." 
" The number of children who have been registered as free by the 
subscribers to the address to the Prince Regent in 1816 is 96; 50 
male and 46 female children. The number of female children who in 
1829 had been purchased by the government under the regulation of 
1821, was 2,211, and the number of slaves who had purchased their 


freedom under the regulation of 1818, either hy lahour on puhlic 
works or otherwise was 504 ; or males 200, females 171, and chil- 
dren 133." 

" By the provisions of this law the value of the slave is determined 
by arbitrators ; and it may be objected to the regulation of 1821, that 
the government should have fixed the sum to be paid for each female 
child, with reference to caste, and at so low a rate as three rix dollars 
(or 4^. 6d.) for the highest, which sum the owner was bound to ac- 
cept. It would be more just that, as in the case of adult slaves pur- 
chasing their freedom, arbitrators should be appointed to determine 
the rate." 

" Latterly the Malabar slaves have not come forward in any num- 
bers to redeem their freedom by purchase, but many children have 
been enfranchised under the regulation." 

" These laws are objected to by the Malabar proprietors, who have 
complained of the compulsory manumission of their slaves ; but as the 
gradual extinction of slavery in Ceylon may be accomplished with so 
little sacrifice, the regulations of 1818 and 1821, with some modifi- 
cations, should be maintained, and their operation extended to the 
Kandyan provinces, where personal slavery, to a limited extent, also 
prevails." (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, pp. 597, 598.) 

From the foregoing report, it appears that the Kandyan provinces 
were excepted from the regulations of 1818 and 1821, though that 
fact does not appear in the regulations themselves. 

From 1831 to 1837, a period of six years, we have no information 
on the subject of slavery in Ceylon, when we find it thus referred to in 
an extract from a despatch of Lord Glenelg's to the Right Honourable 
J. Stewart Mackenzie, dated Downing Street, 2nd of October, 1837- 
" I regret to think that the evil of slavery still exists in the island, — 
though it be only to a comparatively small extent. The number of 
slaves is stated to be 27,397 ; they chiefly reside in the Malabar dis- 
tricts. A regulation of government was passed in 1818, to enable 
them to redeem their freedom by purchase ; and a second regulation 
in 1821 for the emancipation of all female children, by purchase at 
their birth ; the value of the slave is determined, under the former 
law, by arbitrators, but the latter awards the price of the female chil- 
dren with reference to caste, the highest rate being fixed at three rix 
dollars (or 4^. 6d.). Colonel Colebrooke did not consider this to be 
an equitable mode of adjustment, and has recommended in his report 
that arbitrators should be appointed to determine the rate, as in the 
case of adult slaves purchasing their freedom." (Ibid. p. 598). 


It was during the foregoing period that Sir R, "W. Horton, Bart., 
was governor, a man from whom little was to be expected in promot- 
ing the aboUtion of slavery, until, urged by Mr. Justice Jeremie, he 
passed a regulation for the " triennial verifications of the registers " 
in September, 1837, in which provision was also made for registering 
all the Kandyan slaves. On that occasion he made a characteristic 
speech to the council. (Ibid. p. 600). 

The regulations respecting registration were but coldly received by 
Lord Glenelg, who appears to have adopted Sir R. W. Horton's opi- 
nion, " that slavery having become little more than a nominal rela- 
tion, there may be good policy in permitting it to expire silently." It 
would appear that the law for the triennial verification of the Slave 
Registries is a dead letter. Sir R. W. Horton, who passed it on the 
suggestion of Mr. Jeremie, refused to act upon it. (Ibid. pp. 599. 

It is quite evident that if the regulation (1S06) of General Mait- 
land had been strictly enforced, slavery would have ceased long ago 
in Ceylon ; and the same may be said also of the regulations of 1818 
and 1821 ; the fact is, these provisions have been allowed to become 
inoperative, and slavery exists even more extensively now in that 
colony than in 1816, when 763 slave proprietors agreed to manumit 
all the children born of their slaves fi:om the 12th of August of that 

Their number (slaves). The Census of 1837 gives the number 
of slaves in Ceylon as follows, viz. 

Western Provinces, 

Males . 




Southern ditto. 





Eastern ditto. 

ditto ^. . 




Northern ditto 




. 11,910 

Central ditto ^ 
Kandyan ditto > * 

ditto . , 
Males . 





. 13,289 

Females . 




It appears, however, that the above statement is not strictly accu- 
rate. In the Eastern provinces there does not appear to be any re- 
turns kept in the " Seven Korles division," and in the Kandyan pro- 
vinces the numbers returned in 1824, was, males 1,443, females 
1456 = 2,899, and in 1829, males 1,067, females 1,046 = 21J3. 


We have reason to believe, on the best authority, that the number 
is much greater in Kandy, 6,000 being the least that can be reckoned, 
but 12,000, probably, being nearer the mark. It is also computed 
that the entire number of slaves in Ceylon is about 37,000 ! 

We now draw attention to the incidents of slavery in Ceylon, 

Employments of slaves : — ." The Covia, Nallua, and Palla slaves are 
generally employed in cultivating the lands, tending cattle, and col- 
lecting produce from trees. The Covias alone are used as domestic 
slaves." (Ibid. p. 594.) They are the ahsolute property of their 
owners : " Slaves are all personal property ; none are attached to the 
soil, but can be disposed of in any way the proprietors may think 
proper". (Ibid. p. 608.) The punishments inflicted on them : " By 
the laws and customs of the country, a master has the power of 
punishing his slaves in any way short of maiming or death. The 
punishments usually inflicted are flogging, confining in stocks or 
irons, cutting off their hair, and, when very refractory, selling them." 
(Ibid. p. 608.) ll\iey may he separated: — "Slaves are seldom sold 
or families separated, but when given as a marriage portion, or on the 
demise of a proprietor, when, in common with the rest of the de- 
ceased's property, they are distributed among his heirs." (Ibid. 608.) 

How obtained : — " Some are descendants of native Kandyans, 
others of slaves brought from India, others by purchase of children 
during famines, and others by seizing free persons in satisfaction of 
-pecuniary claims." And others by importation, according to Mr. 
Jeremie. (Ibid. p. 608.) (Yide Sawer's Law of slavery in the Kan- 
dyan provinces, a high authority.) Value of slaves: " The rates at 
which slaves were valued have been established from time imme- 
morial, viz. For a male, without reference to his age, 50 ridies, 
or £1 13s. 4d. ; for a female, without reference to the age, 100 
ridies, or £3 6s. Sd." (Sawer's laws of " Kandy.") 

The whole of Mr. Sawer's observations should be read. On the 
subject of Privation and Punishment he says, " A master may drive 
out his slave, and while his slave is in absolute destitution he may 
abandon him to starvation." And again, " short of the deprivation 
of life or limb, the master has the power to punish his slave, and 
could put him to torture with the red hot iron !" 

In addition to the information respecting slavery in Ceylon, drawn 
from the Parliamentary Papers, No, 138, 1839, we make the follow- 
ing extract from a despatch of Lord Glenelg's, dated 24th of Nov. 
1838 : " I am induced to believe that slavery might be speedily 
extinguished in Ceylon with little risk or difficulty. It is indeed 


alleged to be merely nominal, a circumstance which must greatly facili- 
tate its extinction." * * * * " I am therefore anxious," adds his lord- 
ship, " that measures should he immediately taken for effecting the 
entire abolition at the earliest practicable period/' * * ^- * And again 
his lordship says, " I am unwilling to impose upon you specific in- 
structions, an adherence to which might, in your judgment, be in- 
jurious to the public interests ; but I have thought it right to convey 
to you my deliberate opinion, that slavery may be safely terminated 
more rapidly, than by the existing process of gradual manumission." 
The governor, J. A. S. Mackenzie, Esq. is, therefore, called upon to 
transmit to his lordship, *' as soon as possible, a full and detailed re- 
port on the actual state of slavery in every part of the island, contain- 
ing, of course, an account of the number of slaves now remaining in 
the island, and of their owners; and a statement of the nature of the 
occupations and employments of the slaves, and any other particulars 
relative to the subject, which may. be material to a just and complete 
consideration of it." (Par. Pap., No. 467, 1839.) 

The abolition of slavery is necessary, not only on general grounds, 
but because the cultivation of sugar and coffee has been introduced 
into Ceylon, and is likely to be very greatly extended. From a 
letter, dated April 12th, 1837, we make the following extract : " The 
report that sugar planters intend settling here is confirmed. Two 
from the Mauritius, aided by Indian capital, have sent funds, and 
are clearing lands, so there is no time to be lost." Subsequent 
accounts add that additional numbers have resorted to the island 
for the same purpose ; and that the cultivation of coffee is rapidly 
extending over the whole island. 

Note.— For further information, consult Par" Pap. 138, 1839, pp. 559 
to 615, and Par. Pap. 467, 1839 throughout. 


On the 6th December, 1819, the anniversary of the birth-day of 
the king of the Netherlands, Governor Thyssen proposed to the inha- 
bitants of Malacca holding slaves, to declare that all children, the 
offspring of such slaves, should from that day be born free. About 
seventy slave-holders voluntarily signed a declaration to that effect 
(Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 248). 

On the 9th April, 1825, Malacca was transferred to the English 
Government, when Mr. Lewis, Assistant -Resident, states there were 
1339 slaves of various descriptions in the island {Ibid. p. 252). 


In 1826 the census of the slave population gave its numbers 
1097. The census of 1827 raised the number to 1519 ! on which 
Mr. Garling, the Resident Councillor, observed, " The nefarious im- 
portation of slaves has not been put down," and adds, " It cannot 
be put down unless the police department be more vigilant and more 
interested in the measure" (^Ihid. p. 254). 

In reference to the alleged treatment of the slaves, the same gen- 
tleman observes, " I should be happy if the police could prevent all 
barbarities ; as far as complaints are made by slaves I should hope 
that this department would extend redress ; but unless the purlieus 
of the bazar and domestic prisons could be inspected, the depart- 
ment cannot, however well-disposed and vigilant we desire to esteem 
it, prevent many barbarities. As to the real truth that these people 
have ' been treated more as children than slaves,' I must close my 
mind against ocular conviction before I acknowledge the justness of 
so general an assumption" {Ibid. p. 255). And in another place, he 
says, " that the subscribers to the slave petition should speak of the 
' comforts' which the slaves forfeit by seeking their liberty, and 
should declare that these people have been treated more as children 
than slaves, is not surprising — they speak of themselves ! Before I 
can subscribe to such an opinion, I must cast from my mind the 
remembrance of the cries which I have heard, and the mental degra- 
dation, the rags, the wretchedness, the bruises, the contused eyes, 
and bums which I have witnessed ; I must blot out adultery from the 
calendar of vices; I must disbelieve the numerous proofs which I 
have had of obstacles opposed to regular marriages, and the general 
humiliation of females. I must put away every idea of the modes of 
punishment of which eye-witnesses have given me account, and the 
short jacket must no longer be deemed a badge of slavery." {Ihid. 
p. 270.) In addition to the domestic discipline to which slaves were 
subject, we find such punishments as the following ordered by the 
police magistrate : " Chimpu, twelve lashes with the rattan, and to 
work on the roads in irons for a period of six weeks ; thereafter to be 
placed at his master's disposal:" offence, false accusation {Ibid. p. 
292). " Si Sura, one dozen stripes of a rattan, and to be worked in 
irons on the public road for one month : " offence, impertinence and 
idleness {Ibid. p. 293). "Tom, sentenced to receive three dozen lashes, 
and to work on the public roads for irons in six months :" offence, 
absconding {Ibid. p. 294). Salip, slave boy, " to receive eighteen 
lashes of a rattan : " offence, running away {Ibid. p. 296). " Tulip, 
being a notorious bad character, and not having yet the wounds 


healed of the punishment inflicted on him on Monday last, is sen- 
tenced to be flogged on the posteriors with eighteen lashes of a 
rattan," ofi*ence, stealing from his brother {lUd. p. 297). Toby " is 
directed to be punished with one and a half dozen lashes :" off'ence, 
insolence {Ihid. p. 297). These extracts will sufficiently illustrate 
the severity of the slave system in Malacca. 

On the 13th of November, 1829, the governor, in council, addressed 
certain of the principal inhabitants, and recommended to terminate 
the " unwilling and forced labour of the slaves " by a system of 
gradual emancipation {Ibid. p. 260) ; and the result is given in the 
following memorandum. 

" Pursuant to the wishes of the Honourable the Governor, a meeting 
of the inhabitants was convened on Wednesday, the 18th of Novem- 
ber, to take into consideration the best mode for abolishing slavery in 
this settlement. 

" Mr. Lewis having been requested to take the chair, the letter 
received from the secretary to government was read; and after discuss- 
ing the matter therein alluded to, viz. the speedier termination of 
the state of slavery in name and substance than can be expected to 
arise from the gradual demise of the persons now in the list, the fol- 
lowing resolutions were made : — 

" That it is highly desirable that means be taken to put an end to 

" That it appears that domestic works have been always executed 
by slaves ; that all the respectable inhabitants are dependent on this 
mode of service, and that, therefore, the abolition cannot be imme- 
diately efi'ected ; therefore it is resolved, that the several classes of 
natives be invited to name some definite and as short a period as 
may be practicable for completing this desirable measure. 

" That the Portuguese, Chinese, Malays, and Chooliats, do severally 
agree amongst their own tribes to name the period, and that they do 
depute five persons from each class to meet the gentlemen of the set- 
tlement on Wednesday next the 25 th instant, to make known their 

(Signed) « W. T. LEWIS." 

« Wednesday, 25th of November, 1829." {Ibid. p. 235). 

The meeting thus summoned being but thinly attended on account 
of the badness of the weather, it was resolved that it be adjourned to 
Saturday the 28th instant, when it re-assembled pursuant to the re- 
solution ; and the deputation of natives being present, viz., five per- 


sons on behalf of the Portuguese, five persons on behalf of the 
Chinese, five persons on behalf of the Malays, and five persons on 
behalf of the Chooliats. 

The sense of the meeting is taken, and twelve years fixed for the 
emancipation of the slaves borne on the register books of this settle- 

It is therefore resolved, that Mr. Lewis, in the name and behalf of 
the inhabitants of Malacca, do convey to the honourable the Governor 
their acknowledgment of his Excellency's regard for their interests, as 
shown by redressing the grievances of the inhabitants complained of 
in their petition. 

That the inhabitants are sensible that the decision of the judges in 
the case now to be referred will be consonant to the law of England, 
and the legislative acts regarding slavery, by which they, as British 
subjects, are bound both by inclination and duty to abide ; but 

That pending such reference, and to prove to his excellency the 
Governor, and the world in general, that their motives have been 
guided by a sense of humanity, they hereby record their assent 

That slavery shall not be recognized in the town and territory of 
Malacca after the 31st of December, one thousand eight hundred and 
forty-one. (1841.) 

The board, in adverting to the measures reported in Mr. Lewis's 
communication, records its entire approval thereof, pending the refer- 
ence to higher authority, and directs that copies of the letter and pro- 
ceedings do form an enclosure in the despatch to the honom-able court 
of directors, now under preparation (Ibid. p. 236). No govern- 
ment regulations, that we can find, were ever passed to give legal 
efi*ect to the above decision of the residents at Malacca, 

Previously, however, to this period, the resident councillor, Mr. 
Garling, in a minute dated 28th of October, 1829, had stated it as 
his " firm belief that local slavery had no legal existence ;' and 
adds, that having referred the subject to the government so far back 
as the 24th of December, 1828, the acting deputy secretary in his 
answer, dated the 9th of January following, corroborates his opinion. 
Mr. G. observes : — The sentiments of the Honourable Board, as con- 
veyed in that letter, are precisely such as I have all along enter- 
tained, and such as I am of opinion may be substantiated on the most 
unquestionable grounds, viz. " The government is decidedly of opinion 
that slavery ha^s not^ in any shape, a legal existence in Malacca." No 
provisions whatever are made for its continuance by the treaty of 
transfer ; and it is not, as in the West Indies, recognized by act of 



Parliament, or by any law made under sanction of the legislature 
{Ibid. p. 241). 

A difference of opinion upon the foregoing point having existed, 
however, between Mr. Garling and President, FuUerton, the ques- 
tion was reerred by them to the governor general. Lord Wm. Bent- 
inck, on the 26th of November, 1829, and by him it appears was 
referred home, for we find in Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 36, the follow- 
ing communications from the government to the East India Com- 
pany upon it, viz. 

Sir, India Board, 12th of January, 1831. 

I am directed by the Commissioners for the affairs of India to ac- 
quaint you, that the board consider it may be highly desirable that 
the opinion of the law officers of the Crown and of the East India 
Company's counsel should be taken, as soon as possible, on the ques- 
tion of the legality of slavery at Malacca, which has been brought to 
the notice of the authorities in England by the letter from the supreme 
government, dated 16th of June last. The board have therefore 
desired me to request that the Company's solicitor may be put in 
communication with the solicitor to this board, and that when a case 
has been prepared by them, it may be transmitted to this office pre- 
viously to its being submitted to counsel. 

I am, &c. 
(Signed) SANDON. 

Peter Auber, Esq. &c. &c. &c. 

No answer having been given to this communication, another was 
forwarded, of which the following is a copy : — 

Sir, India Board, 18th of June, 1831. 

The commissioners for the affairs of India having received no com- 
munication from the court of directors, in consequence of the letter 
which Viscount Sandon addressed to you on the 12th of January 
last, respecting the legality of slavery at Malacca, have directed me 
to request that you wdll call the court's attention to the subject, and 
move them to cause the draft of a case, for submission to the law 
officers of the crown and East India Company, to be transmitted to 
the board without delay. 

I am, &c. 

Peter Auber, Esq. 


No notice appears to have been taken of tliis either ; and here the 
question was suffered to rest, as we have no further reference to it in 
any of the official documents. 

It is worthy of inquiry, What is now the actual condition of the 
slaves in Malacca? and whether the government has ordered the 
necessary steps to be taken for their bona fide enfranchisement this 
year ? 

Note — For further information on the subject of slavery in Malacca, 
consult Par. Pap, 138, 1839, pp. 241 to 306 inclusive, 


In Penang, or Prince of Wales's Island, there is said to be about 
3,000 slaves (Peggs's East India Slavery, p. 84) ; and it is evident 
from an inspection of official papers, that an active slave trade has 
been carried on for the purpose of recruiting their numbers. To the 
Rev. Mr. Boucho, Mis. Apos. we are indebted for denouncing this 
traffic to the government in 1828, when he drew the attention of the 
resident councillor, Mr. Ibbetson, to the fact that a Chinese junk, 
from the west coast of Sumatra, had " imported into the island not 
less than eighty captives from Pulo Nias," who had been " sold to 
different Chinese \ and that a few of the young girls had been seen in 
the houses, " entertained by some Chinese, for the purpose of prosti- 
tution" (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 223). This communication led 
to the discovery of three other junks, which had arrived between the 
1st of May and the 19th of June, 1828, having on board nineteen 
slaves {Ihid. 224), sixteen of whom were recovered after they had 
been sold {lUd. 225). Orders were given by the government for 
the prosecution of the offenders. It appears that the original cargoes 
of these junks consisted of " 100 persons, most of whom were after- 
wards landed and disposed of at different Malayan ports" {Ihid. 
p. 227). The Chinese engaged in the odious traffic belonged to 
Penang, and were consequently F^ritish subjects. 

On application, by the president and resident councillor at Penang, 
to the admiral on the station, to adopt measures " best calculated to 
put an end to these illegal traffickings," he replied that he regretted to 
find that his power was " too circumscribed to be made available in 
any way that could tend to the attainment of so desirable an object" 
iJUd. pp. 232, 233). 

The result of the trial of the Chinese slave-traders is not given in 
the official papers. 


In 1830, we learn by a minute recorded by the president (Mr, 
FuUerton) " that the practice of importing slave debtors clandestinely 
still continues; that persons so imported are procured by Nakod- 
has of Prahus, and other native vessels from the adjacent islands, 
mostly from Bali ; that they are procured exactly in the same manner 
as regular slaves, by purchase, money or goods in barter ; that they 
are frequently the captives taken by pirates ;" and " that they are 
imported, to all intents and purposes, as articles of trade." {Ihid. 
p. 238.) 

The President finds a " few redeeming qualities," besides the argu- 
ment which may be drawn from the long-established custom and 
usage of these countries, in favour of slavery in Penang. He observes, 
" the slavery or service is entirely domestic, and not partaking of the 
severe labour exacted from the slaves of our West India colonies." 
But he adds, " the proportion between the sexes in this settlement, 

according to the last census was, males -, females , 

(numbers not given), and the small number of the latter has always 
been considered one great cause of crime. The emigration of females 
from China is not allowed ; from India it is repugnant to Hindoo 
ideas; of indigenous Malays the proportion between the sexes is 
nearly equal. It is only^ therefore, from females imported under the 
present system that the population can arise out of the progressive ad- 
dition of new settlers ; and it will be recollected, that the female 
slaves imported into Penang from Pulo Nias, before the operation of 
the slave laws, are the mothers of the whole indigenous population 
of Prince of Wales' Island. I mention these circumstances," said the 
President, " as forming part of the subject, but by no means to urge 
them as arguments in favour of the continuance of a practice in which 
evil so far predominates ; for giving all weight to the above consider- 
ation, it must be admitted, also, that the practice of female slave - 
dealing is liable to, and often attended with, circumstances of de- 
pravity that far outweigh the advantages on the other side. Setting 
aside all considerations of local policy, we are, no doubt, bound by 
eveiy obligation, legal as well as moral, to put down a practice which, 
however conducted in form, is, in reality, slave-dealing forbidden by 
law, and the continuance of which must carry with it a continuation 
of all the horrors induced by it in other places, as exemplified in the 
case of African slave-dealing, the encouragement to wars for the pur- 
pose of making captives for sale, and, in these seas, even the piracies 
which it encourages, slaves being often the principal object in view. 
When the habit is inveterate, and in a place like Singapore affording 
the best market for slaves as well as every other saleable article, the 


suppression will not be an easy matter, and much evasion, particu- 
larly by Chinese, will probably take place, notwithstanding all our 
endeavours to suppress it." The President then recommends that the 
practice of slave-trading be forbidden, that the E-egistrar of imports 
and exports should report suspicious cases ; but adds, " When so 
little actual control is exercised over the trade, there being no Custom 
House at these ports, I know of no other measures that can be taken 
to repress the practice" {Ibid. p. 239). 

In reference to the unfortunate and wretched beings who had been 
illicitly imported into Penang, Mr. FuUerton observes : — " There'can- 

not be a doubt that all so situated are ipse facto free " " but 

it must be here considered," he remarks, " that, although many be 
detained against their consent, and even ill-treated, that many are 
also satisfied with their situation," and therefore " any direct inter- 
position by the government would be objectionable !" {Ibid. p. 239.) 
We quote no farther ; but merely observe that this gentleman urges 
a variety of arguments in favour of letting matters alone, and con„ 
eludes his long article with these remarkable words : — '-' When called 
upon, we do all that can reasonably be done for the amelioration 
of the habits of our people, and their gradual advancement in the 
scale of civilization" ! {Ibid. p. 239.) 

Before we close this brief notice of slavery and the slave-trade in 
Penang and Singapore, we feel it to be our duty to advert to one 
fact which illustrates the spirit which too frequently pervades the 
government of the distant possessions of this country ; and how little 
of warm and hearty co-operation may be expected from the resident 
functionaries, in correcting the grossest abuses which exist, and in 
putting down practices which are not less inhuman than they are 
illegal. It appears that in Malacca there had been established a 
paper, entitled the " Malacca Observer," and in Singapore another 
called the " Singapore Chronicle." Both of these publications issued 
from the mission press. The editor of the former felt it to be his 
duty to animadvert strongly on the existence of slavery in Malacca ; 
this was construed into a great offence, by the local government, 
on the representation of the slave-holders, and he was obliged to 
discontinue it. The columns of the " Singapore Chronicle " were, 
however, open to him ; and throufjh that medium he continued his 
attack on the evil, but was not long permitted to do so, for, in a 
despatch of Mr. Secretary Patullo, Malacca, to the resident councillor 
at Singapore, the Hon. K. Murchiston, dated 20tli of November, 
1829, we find that he was " directed to desire that no observations 
bearing on the question of local slavery at Malacca, be for the pre- 


sent permitted to appear in the " Singapore Chronicle !" {Ibid. p. 
234.) Besides which a communication was made on the same day 
by th€ same gentleman to the managing school committee at Malacca 
to the following effect: — " The attention of the honourable the 
Governor in council has been called to a publication in the " Singa- 
pore Chronicle," signed, " The late Editor of the Malacca Observer," 
adverting, in a most improper and offensive style on the discussions 
on the slave question, which have lately created so much interest in 
this settlement. It is known that the person, signing himself as 
above, is employed as schoolmaster at Malacca, under your super- 
intendence, and paid by means of the monthly allowance granted by 
government for schools. I am, therefore, directed to call yom- par- 
ticular attention to this point, and to acquaint you, that should any 
future publication adverting to slavery, and emanating from the same 
person, appear hereafter, the allowance will be immediately with- 
drawn by government" {Ibid. p. 234). What grounds the Governor 
in council had for complaint against the editor of the " Malacca Ob- 
server," in the absence of the articles which appear to have given 
them so much annoyance, we know not, but had that gentleman 
charged them with having thrown in the way of Mr. Gailing, the 
resident councillor at Malacca, every obstacle to the accomplishment 
of his laudable purposes to suppress the slave trade, and to secure 
liberty to the slaves illegally held in bondage, he would have only 
stated the simple truth, and deserved the thanks of every philanthro- 
pist {Ibid. p. 254). 


This form of slavery appears to have existed with various modifi- 
cations in British India, and in the various settlements possessed by this 
country in the East, such as Ceylon, IMalacca, Penang, &c. In two 
very interesting papers communicated to the government by Mr. 
Presgrane, acting resident councillor at Malacca, in 1830, we find 
that it had long been the custom to introduce into the Island slaves 
under the appellation of " slave debtors." The countries whence the 
chief supply of these slaves is attained, are " the Batta, the Balli, the 
interior of Borneo called Daya Ho, and a few from the Island of Mas." 
The principal importers of this class of persons are ^' the Chinese from 
Singapore, where they are obtained from the Malay and Buger traders, 
chiefly the latter." " One of the most fertile sources of supply of 
slaves is undoubtedly piracy ; to this end chiefly are those piratical 
expeditiqns directed, and the profits arising from the sale of the cap- 
tives is at once the inducement and main support of these barbarous 


and destructive undertakings." And thus " all the peculiar hardship 
and cruelty of the slave-trade may be said to be perpetuated by sanc- 
tioning the free introduction of slave debtors (actual slaves)." — 
(Par. Pap. 138, 1832, pp. 304—306.) 

In Penang some notice was taken of the prevalence and illegality 
of this abominable species of slave-trading in 1830, and it was beheved 
" that the means adopted will have the effect of at least diminishing 
the continuation of a practice so dissonant to the principles of British 
government, and so revolting to the feelings of humanity" (75. p. 7)» 

The practice of debtor slavery prevails extensively in the countries 
and provinces east of Bengal. In the Tenasserim provinces it " pre- 
vails universally." It exists in Bengal itself; — " occasionally," says 
Hamilton, writing of Silhet, " the poorer descriptions of free persons 
sell themselves when in extreme distress." In Gorakpur " a native, 
for a loan of fifty-one rupees, at twelve per cent, interest, comes under 
an obHgation to give his own labour and that of his family to the 
lender at all times and in all forms, for an indefinite period, until the 
amount of the loan shall be repaid, principal and interest, in full." 
The eff'ect of this arrangement is, on the death of the father, to 
leave his wife and children in bondage. In the Dekhan " debtors 
have sometimes become slaves to their creditors." In the Madi-as 
territory persons in discharge of their debts, bind themselves " to ser- 
vitude either for life or for a limited period." Such bond service 
must often practically become perpetual slavery by the inability of 
the bond servant to discharge the pecuniary obligations which have 
been incurred. (Adam's Law and Custom, &c., pp. 158 — 161.) In 
Assam we find that during a partial famine in 1825, the political 
agent, Mr. Scott, issued a proclamation " permitting payiks, or per- 
sons owing service to the state, to sell themselves as slaves or bond- 
men, agreeably to the former custom of the country in similar cases." 
This permission, of which the East India Company did not obtain 
information until the year 1829, it very properly denounced as a pro- 
ceeding of " a very questionable character." In the despatch Avhich 
contained their disapproval of the measure, the directors say, " slavery 
in every form is an evil of great magnitude, and peculiarly revolting 
to the moral feelings of Englishmen ;" a golden sentence, but of no 
force unless practically applied by them to the extirpation of the 
evil in all the territories subject to their control. In the case of 
payiks, they add, " it would appear that temporary relief from the 
government would have obviated that dreadful necessity of selling 
themselves as slaves for life to obtain present subsistence, which 
seems to have been brought upon the unfortunate people] of Assam 


by distress of a temporary'nature" (Par. Pap. 138, 1839, p. 2). In 

Arracan " there are slave debtors called Ponghrany, or Keeoong-bong, 
or the pledged, in consideration of money paid" {Ihid. p. 47). The 
only other reference we find in the printed papers of 1839, to this 
subject, is contained in an extract from a judicial letter from Bengal, 
dated September 19, 1836, as follows: — "The practice of debtor 
slavery is one which, the commissioner stated, could only be abolished 
by a change in the moral condition of the people. All, therefore, 
that could be done on the part of the government would be to dis- 
courage, without absolutely prohibiting the custom. To this end it 
was suggested that after a certain date, no contract lor debtor slavery 
under any shape, should be deemed valid in the courts : the 1st of 
July of the current year was the date proposed. In giving public, 
notice of the above measure, Mr. Blundell suggested the expediency 
of setting forth a short exposition of the objects of government, in 
desiring to discourage a practice which he describes as degrading and 
vitiating the people^ and as furnishing an additional stimulus to the 
national passion for gambling" (lb. p. 30). 


We have now brought our notices of slavery and the slave- 
trade in our East India possessions and dependencies to a close; 
and we venture confidently to ask every abolitionist throughout 
the country to exert himself in carrying the following resolution 
of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-slavery Society 
passed at a special meeting on the 15th of Jan. 1841, into immediate 
and full efi:ect : — 

Resolved That, inasmuch as slavery is indubitably proved to exist 
in various cruel and degrading forms, and to a great extent in Bri- 
tish India, as well as in several dependencies of the British crown, 
in the East, whereby large numbers of the Queen's subjects are de- 
prived of their personal liberty, and their civil rights, contrary to the 
principles of natural justice — the free institutions of this country, 
and the sacred claims of Christianity, this Committee would re- 
spectfully request the Right Hon. Dr. Lushington, to give notice 
of a motion, at the opening of the next session of Parliament, for 
its immediate and entire abolition ; and to suggest to him that this 
may be most efi*ectua]ly accomplished by a declaratory statute which 
shall relieve from bondage (however modified or sanctioned) every 
class of men within the limits of this great empire ; and which shall 
provide, that every person who shall hereafter touch any portion of 
the British territory, without exception or limitation, shall be ipso 
facto, free.'